Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Win   Leave a comment

Posted September 21, 2011 by padraic2112 in Uncategorized

I Heart Vi Hart   Leave a comment

Check out her YouTube channel, or check out her site.  She is awesome.

Posted August 23, 2011 by padraic2112 in Uncategorized

I’m Over Here   Leave a comment

I’m co-blogging at Mindless Diversions.  I’ll get around to blogging here again someday.

Posted August 18, 2011 by padraic2112 in Uncategorized

Folksonomy of Programmers   3 comments

I don’t program for a living.  However, I know a bunch of programmers, as part of my job I talk shop with Computer Science people, and programming languages interest me from the standpoint of logical systems.

I was chewing the fat with one of those aforementioned Computer Science folk this morning, and I offered a classification system for programmers that he found entertaining.  Since I needed something to write about to get me back into the blogging gig, here it is for your consumption, with some embellishment.

Class One: The Directionless Hack

How to recognize them:

These people don’t know much about anything.  They’re the type who learned how to program by reading “Java for Dummies”, or by hammering away at their computer to get something specific done (like, building the web site for their band or their buddy’s motorcycle shop). Edited to add: as Corey points out in the comments, you can have a degree in Computer Science, from a reputable university, and still be a directionless hack.  How you learned what you know is less important than what you haven’t learned, and “just getting this next thing done” is a very common approach to formal education, too.

In and of itself, self-taught programmers aren’t necessarily a bad lot (many of the below classes started here), but these yahoos haven’t got an enormous amount of intellectual curiosity about how programming works and their “self-taught” skills stop precisely at the place where their current problem ends.  They generally keep solving the same problems over and over, as they fail to realize that the problem that they’re trying to solve is something that someone else already solved a couple of decades ago.

They program almost entirely in Perl, PHP, or JavaScript, because that’s what they can hack together with a minimal amount of abstract work, and they run everything over the web that they can.  They’ve built at least one database in their lifetime, and anyone who understands normalization will scream in abject horror if they see the database schema.  Generally, they need complete access to everything to get anything done, because they can’t explain what they’re doing while they do it, at least in part because they’re not sure what they’re doing.  Within a very short period of time after they leave their code up and running, it will collapse in a way that only the original developer can untangle.  They don’t use version control; or if they use version control a typical change comment will include, “Checking in some changes”.  Comments in the source code will be likewise either nonexistent, or include no useful information.  They don’t work well with systems administrators, DBAs, or networking folks.

Common statement: “Well, it works for me.”

Class Two: The Directed Hack

How to recognize them:

These are the people who know they need to get something done, but figured out somewhere along the line that it might be a good idea to pick up at least a couple of books about programming concepts instead of just “howto” manuals.  If they graduated with a CS major, they paid enough attention in their theory classes to grasp what “layer of abstraction” means, although they may not be able to explain it.  Like the directionless hack, they usually need full access to most things to get anything done, however unlike the directionless hack they’ll have learned enough about at least some things to know they don’t want to mess with it any more.  If they have more than 5 years of experience, they’ll have some comments in their code (precisely at the location where most of the bugs are), because they occasionally want to go on vacation.  They program in whatever language is currently en vogue wherever they are, or they will default to Perl or Python.  They will have an opinion on what the best language is, but their strength of their opinion will be directly correlated to whether or not they’ve worked primarily on writing their own code (in which case they will prefer an unstructured language), or supporting the code of someone else (in which case they will prefer a much more rigorously structured language).  Depending upon the stage of their professional development, they will work well with systems administrators, database administrators, or networking personnel, but never all three at the same time.  These people actually make up the bulk of systems administrators, industry-wide.  Programming editors vary wildly.

Common statement, in comments: “# I know this sucks, but it works.  Do it yourself if you don’t like it.”

Class Three: The Mercenary Professional

How to recognize them:

They know Java, ASP.NET, and/or C#.  They’re at least conceptually familiar with SOAP and/or Ajax.  They hate whichever database they’ve relied upon that had the least competent DBA, and like whichever database they’ve relied upon that had the most competent DBA.  They want version control, they want detailed specifications, they don’t want to have more than two meetings with the customer.  They regard most of what they learned in college (if they were a CS major) as useless and unnecessary.  These people want to get stuff *done*, and they don’t want another phone call about it afterward.  They regard systems administrators and networking staff as necessary evils.  They will love good DBAs, and set fire to bad ones.  They will have a love-hate relationship with XML.  They will likely prefer Waterfall development, and use NetBeans or Visual Studio IDE.

Common statement: “File that bug report with the maintenance team,” or “That’s not in the spec.”

Class Four: The Cabalist

How to recognize them:

They have a very, very strong opinion on which language is teh best evar, and the list of candidates includes Lisp, C, Modula-3, and Haskell.  They will be able to write up at least six different logical diagrams of any project before writing any code… although they probably won’t write up logical diagrams because they can move from one layer of abstraction to another, on the fly, in their own head (or at least, they think they can).  Their first approach to most software projects will be to suggest a complete re-write in a language that doesn’t suck.  They will hate most programming languages, including any language that is proposed by anyone on their programming team that isn’t a Cabalist or a Professional.  Good Cabalists will work well with good DBAs, but bad Cabalists will annoy the hell out of them by offering suggestions on how to improve the database.  They will often argue with systems administrators or networking staff about technical limitations (of the systems or network) as if problems with deviation from RFCs are the technical staff’s fault.  They will likely prefer some sort of agile programming methodology, and have a strong preference for their particular favorite incarnation.  Cabalists typically will use Emacs (and have a very strong preference for a particular incarnation of emacs), and sneer at any IDE.

Common statement: “Only a complete idiot would do it that way.”

Class Five: The Theoretician

Closely related to The Cabalist, the Theoretician goes one step farther.  They will have done one of the following: written a major software program in Assembly, written their own compiler in a language *other* than Assembly “just to do it”, written their own programming language, installed a C compiler on their HP calculator, contributed a driver or a chunk of the kernel to either the Linux, FreeBSD, or NetBSD projects, or installed and run Plan 9 on their home network un-ironically.  These people are nearly useless in a team environment as nobody else can understand them except a Cabalist, and Cabalists and Theoreticians rarely get along.  However, they also can be the sort of Free Electron that can re-write an entire application over a weekend.  Almost all Theoreticians use vi.

Common statement: “Yeah, I wrote about that in the 2001 issue of IEEE Interactions between Compilers and Computer Architectures”

Class Six: The Weary Wise One

These guys and gals used to be one of the above classes, but have passed into programming Nerdvana to Enlightenment.  They will have opinions, but no longer care about the strength of those convictions.  They will re-write the entire code base, but only if necessary, or hack it if that’s the best way to get the job done.  They will cheerfully reuse another programmer’s code (even bad code), or buy an off-the-shelf component if that’s legitimately the best way to get the job done nearly on time, basically on budget, and with quality good enough to make everyone happy.  They will hate most operating systems, programming languages, and programming methodologies equally.  Typically they will prefer vi or emacs over an IDE, but will use an IDE if it gets the job done.

Common statement: “This is still better than my dot-com days.”

Posted November 17, 2010 by padraic2112 in humor, software, tech, Uncategorized

The Greatest Game   Leave a comment

Every year, something new happens in baseball. And it’s always a really *interesting* new thing. Something happens that’s never happened before.

Tonight, something happened that had never happened before… the San Francisco Giants won the World Series. The Giants had won it before, but not since they relocated to San Francisco. Not since well before I was born.

Congrats to the players. You’ve given three generations of baseball fans something to remember.

Posted November 2, 2010 by padraic2112 in Uncategorized

New Reading Material   Leave a comment

Modeled Behavior is added to the blogroll.  Tip o’ the hat to Paulie.

Go read.  You’ll be somewhat catastrophically depressed, but read anyway.

Posted September 9, 2010 by padraic2112 in Uncategorized

The Iron Law of Confirmation Bias   2 comments

Ben Goldacre posts over on Bad Science about the distressing tendency of people to reject that which does not confirm their already-held beliefs.

Their views on each issue were added together to produce one bumper score on the extent to which they thought science could be informative on all of these questions, and the results were truly frightening. People whose pre-existing stereotypes about homosexuality had been challenged by the scientific evidence presented to them were more inclined to believe that science had nothing to offer, on any question, not just on homosexuality, when compared with people whose views on homosexuality had been reinforced.

When presented with unwelcome scientific evidence, it seems, in a desperate bid to retain some consistency in their world view, people would rather conclude that science in general is broken. This is an interesting finding. But I’m not sure it makes me very happy.

This is in and of itself not a terribly astonishing finding (depressing though it may be).  There is a very large body of evidence to show that people are resoundingly poor at objectively measuring evidence using a consistent standard.

Simply put, if a study has a conclusion with which you agree, you tend to ignore the limitations of the study and place more trust in the conclusion.  If a study with the same exact design has a conclusion with which you disagree, you have a tendency to focus on the limitations of the study and place less trust in the conclusion.

Even if the methodology is precisely the same.  Depressing, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, this tendency is not minimized by intelligence quotient.  Smart people, as I’ve said before elsewhere on this blog, are not guaranteed to be wise.  As I observed over the weekend to the pater familias, people who have invested huge quantities of time and training in a field (and thus have a justifiable belief in their own expertise in that field) unfortunately have a tendency to assume that competence possesses fantastic osmotic capabilities.

Which is fascinating, as they’d jump straight to how much work they had to complete to gain basic competency in their own field as a justification for their position for their beliefs in their field… but the expertise acquired by someone else through their own study of some other field is trumped by… well, I’m not really sure.  The “obvious truth”, I suppose.

People who are mathematical mavens assume that they understand economics better than they actually do.  People who are biologists assume that they understand psychology better than they actually do.  Successful politicians assume that they can understand engineering, everybody assumes they understand everybody’s theology, and so on.

You see this a lot when you start arguing about the philosophy of science.  Scientists, as a class, make fun of other fields in order of their likelihood to line up with postivist standards of measure.  Mathematicians famously make fun of scientists (and the philosophers make fun of the mathematicians).  I’ve thrown this XKCD comic up before, it’s a classic which illustrates the situation fairly well:

Sadly, as you move away from mathematics towards physics, you move away from an axiomatic system to constructive empiricism.  You lose truth, but you gain facts, something I’ve mentioned before.  The problem, of course, is that your facts are based upon your ability to observe, which is largely contingent upon the accuracy of your measurements.  The farther away from physics you go, the more uncertainty you get in your measurements, and the more qualifications you need to put upon your observations (which has the distressing tendency to produce the, “Social scientists aren’t *real* scientists” attitude among the hard science crowd).

This follows, of course, when you have a biologist who has a particular ideological stance, but some whippersnapper sociologist comes along and challenges that ideological stance.  The biologist, of course, depends upon science for their livelihood, so they can hardly disclaim science.  They can cheerfully disclaim sociology.

The point?

You know, I’m really not sure I’m going to bother to say.  If you’re reading this, and you agree with me, you’re already going to know what the point is.

And if you don’t, you’re going to disagree with the point, right?

Posted July 7, 2010 by padraic2112 in philosophy, rants, science, Uncategorized

There’s A Flaw In Your Logic, Good Sir   2 comments

Gerald P.  Jr., over at the CATO institute, offers a missive entitled: “The Gulf Spill, the Financial Crisis and Government Failure”.  My teeth ache.

From the article:

The Gulf oil spill and the global financial crisis both demonstrate the failings of big government.

Already we have a problem.  The Gulf oil spill and global financial crisis illustrate failings of government.  We don’t know for sure that they illustrate the same failing.  We also don’t know that the size of government has anything to do with the problem.  You are arguing in advance of your facts, Mr. O’Driscoll; motion to strike your comment as prejudicial to the jury.

Given that it is your opening line, I don’t expect the rest of this to go well, which is too bad, as you often do write good stuff.

The agency directly responsible for regulating the activity is the Minerals Management Service (MMS) of the Department of the Interior. Government regulation is intended to protect the public interest against bad or irresponsible behavior by private parties. In the case of offshore drilling, the federal government has assumed the role of solving a collective action problem. Potentially all Americans benefit from the drilling, but those living in coastal areas suffer disproportionate harm from mishaps. The government theoretically negotiates on their behalf and establishes rules to protect them.  Obviously, regulation failed. By all accounts, MMS operated as a rubber stamp for BP. It is a striking example of regulatory capture: Agencies tasked with protecting the public interest come to identify with the regulated industry and protect its interests against that of the public.

I agree, MMS is a striking example of regulatory capture.  I disagree with your characterization of regulatory capture.  “Agencies tasked with protecting the public interest come to identify with the regulated industry”.

“Come to identify”?

This is the sort of phrase I use to describe my dog’s behavior in the household.  He has “come to identify” me as the alpha male in the pack.  Has the Materials Management service, as an organizational entity, “come to identify” with the oil industry (i.e., arrived at this identification under its own auspices)… or has it been encouraged to identify with the oil industry (either by actions of the oil industry, or by political entities above it, or some combination thereof)?  How does an organization “come to identify”… an organization does not have a unified cognitive function.  It’s a collection of individuals.  They don’t all decide to identify with an industry independently all at the same time, do they?

The result: Government fails to protect the public. That conclusion is precisely the same for the financial services industry.

The result is not precisely the same.  It is conceptually the same.  You’re misusing “precisely” in literally the same way people misuse “literally”.

Advocates of heavy regulation promise that risky behavior by banks can be controlled and limited by regulators. There are two major reasons such efforts fail. I have already discussed the first: regulatory capture.

Okay, let’s talk for a second about regulatory capture, since I agree regulatory capture is indeedy the sort of thing that represents a real problem, and you haven’t covered it well.

Remember when I talked about audit a couple of days ago?  We are going to rely somewhat on that post here.  Go read it, if you haven’t already.  Okay, now you’re back and ready for a new bunch of genius knowledge.  When you’re talking about regulatory capture, you’re talking about some of the factors I mention at the end of the post… first:  “If we make it harder for people to do one kind of bad stuff, are they going to stop doing bad stuff altogether?  Or are they going to move to a different kind of bad stuff that’s worse?”

Regulatory capture is a case where the organizational process being audited leads the organization being audited to decide “to do a different kind of bad stuff that’s worse”, namely they suborn the audit process either directly (by bribing the auditors) or indirectly (by political maneuvering changing the rules of the audit process), for the purpose of either exempting themselves  from the audit, or for the nefarious and truly reprehensible purpose of entrenching their organization’s place in the market by raising huge barriers to entry.

How you prevent regulatory capture?  This is actually *not* a big mysterious insoluble question.  “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

Let’s look at the particular case of the MMS.  It is a federal agency.  The current acting head, Bob Abbey, replaced Elizabeth (Liz) Birnbaum.  Ms. Birnbaum (who inherited the job in July 2009) seems to have been thrown under a bus, so to speak, but at the same time when you’re the head of a major regulatory agency you ought to have fixed some of the problems that were present when you took the top spot.

However, it’s not terribly counter-intuitive to imagine that stacking a regulatory agency with a bunch of pro-industry appointees for several years might take some time to undo, yes?  Particularly in today’s employment-employer market, where it’s difficult to fire people?  (Yes, even in private industry?)  Stacking was a tactic that President Bush was accused of using in so many different problem domains it’s hard to list them all.  To be fair, there are accusations of the same levied at the current Administration, like any other.  However, when the question is that of regulatory capture, it seems fairly obvious that stacking in the particular case of an oversight agency with industry insiders is a bad idea.

Perhaps (and I’m just brainstorming, just thinking outside the box, here), regulatory capture is just one symptom, here?  Perhaps the root problem is that our political system is very nearly engineered so that the party in power feels that it must embed itself in every little facet of government operations in order to further its long term goals, which are most often aligned with the good of the party, not the good of the country?

Is this less an issue with large organizations in general, than it is with large organizations that perforce must trade leadership (between diametrically opposed philosophies) every 4-12 years?

Maybe we could compensate for this problem in this particular domain, without throwing our hands up in the air and claiming that we can’t build anything bigger than a breadbox without dooming it to failure?  The CDC seems to operate fairly well.  The NSF seems to get along okay.  Maybe we ought to try having these other regulatory agencies exist without having the capability of having an Administration (of any stripe) suborn the process they’re supposed to oversee?

The second source of regulatory failure is the knowledge problem identified by Nobel Laureate Friedrich Hayek. The knowledge required by regulators is dispersed throughout the industry and broader economy. For regulation to work, that dispersed knowledge must be centralized in the regulatory agency. To successfully accomplish this requires central planning of the industry, if not the economy.

Now, this is actually germane.  For this reason, if no other:

By way of explanation, MMS Lake Charles District Manager Larry Williamson told the Acting Inspector General, “obviously, we’re all oil industry. We’re all from the same part of the country. Almost all of our inspectors have worked for oil companies out on these same platforms. They grew up in the same towns. Some of these people, they’ve been friends with all their life. They’ve been with these people since they were kids. They’ve hunted together. They fish together. They skeet shoot together … They do this all the time.”

It’s certainly the case that if you want to have experts in oil drilling, you’re probably going to be hiring experts from the oil drilling industry to provide some of the functionality of your oversight mechanism, and thus they’re going to have friendship ties to the industry (this can often work out to your advantage, by the way, since people will tell friends about fiascoes that they won’t discuss with a nameless pencil-pusher).  But it’s also not anywhere near the case that nobody can be knowledgeable about audit if they don’t work in the industry.  It takes anyone with a decent knowledge of security maybe 10 seconds to identify this sort of a problem.  “Gee, Bob has worked for BP before.  Maybe we ought to read Bob’s audit reports with a certain amount of scrutiny if Bob is auditing BP instead of Shell.  Or maybe we can have Bob audit Shell in the first place, and get Louie to audit Shell.  That seems less outright stupid, doesn’t it?”

But the local knowledge of specific circumstances of time and place cannot be aggregated in one mind or agency. We know that is impossible, and that impossibility was the reason for the collapse of the Soviet Empire and the transformation of the Chinese economy.

(sigh) No, Mr. O’Driscoll, we know no such thing.  Your statement is flatly ridiculous.  By this line of reasoning, any sort of aggregation of knowledge is useless, and any attempt at structure is equivalent to a totalitarian, planned economy.  You don’t have any sense of measure or trade-off, here.

Yes, it is true, as you aggregate knowledge you have a tendency to lose detail.  This is a problem with abstraction layers and information hiding, something that people have known about in the Computer Science field… forever, relatively speaking.  At least, in technology terms.  It’s relatively new in organizational science, but people are starting to take note.

An organizational structure is a lot like a computer program.  As the structure gets more complex, the areas in which large functions of the organization interact with other large functions need to be normalized, or you can’t get any work done.  Typically, when you do this, you’re going to lose some efficiencies in return for the others that you gain.  It’s a classic example of the trade-offs of top-down vs. bottom-up structure.  However, something the small-government people have failed to recognize is that if you don’t do this, your structure likely cannot scale.  You can’t build the Great Pyramid of Cheops with one guy.  You can’t even build it with a million guys if they don’t coordinate somehow… and if they’re coordinated, there are going to be times when a bunch of them are sitting around, doing nothing, waiting for somebody else to get something else done.

Getting groups of people to align along a particular goal predates history as a human societal problem.  There are some areas I agree with libertarians, it’s probably better to just leave well enough alone.  Some problems don’t require a Great Pyramid solution, so don’t build one.  I’m pretty sure that any industry capable of ruining the global economy or the environment for a geographical region larger than many ancient civilizations probably requires some sort of audit.  Yes, granted, it’s going to be tricky to audit such a beast.  The alternative is to forbid such things to exist, or to ride the crazy boom-bust cycle on a greater frequency than we currently do so.  I find neither particularly attractive.

Regulatory practice represents islands of central planning in otherwise decentralized market economies. If we add back in the problem of regulatory capture, then we get industries coddled and protected by government. When business and politics become intertwined we move from market economies to crony capitalism.

Yes, that’s true.  When we remove regulatory oversight, though, we get a whole new set of problems.  Please don’t pretend that they don’t exist.  You’re comparing regulatory oversight and its drawbacks to itself, instead of the lack thereof.

What is the missed lesson from all this? When President George W. Bush had his Katrina moment, the federal government’s bumbling response was blamed on him, on the Republicans, and on conservatives. Now it is President Obama’s turn. His administration’s faltering response to the disaster in the Gulf is attributed to his personal failings, staff ineptitude, communication failures, etc.

George W. Bush put a demonstrably unqualified person with no training in exception scenarios in charge of the governmental body responsible solely for responding to crisis events.  Obama put a demonstrably unsuitable person with some experience but no industry ties in charge of a governmental body riddled with industry insiders which was responsible for auditing that industry.  One major difference: there was some reason to believe that Ms. Birnbaum would be able to approach the problem of regulatory capture as she was not an insider.  She failed, yes, that’s on her and the Administration.  However, it’s clearly not the same problem as Mr. Brown’s inept handling of FEMA.  In Mr. Brown’s case, there was no reason to suppose that he might be successful.  In Ms. Birnbaum’s case, there was reason to believe she might not be successful, but also reason to believe she may be, and until it had been tested, you couldn’t know for certain.

A big-government conservative administration failed in crisis, as has a big-government liberal administration. The regulatory state did not prevent excessive risk taking whether in financial services, nor perhaps in offshore oil drilling. Government response to crises once they occur is slow and inept.

Funny, while the CATO institute fairly often criticized the Bush Administration (particularly in the areas of spending and civil liberties, it should be noted for fairness), they also supported quite a number of the Bush Administration’s policy decisions, often for “small-government” approaches.  I don’t think the privatization of Social Security supported by CATO would have been a very good idea, considering the market performance of the last 5 years.  That aside…

The “regulatory state” did not prevent excessive risk taking in financial services, because the… wait, what is the “regulatory state” circa 2008 when it comes to finance?  According to your article:

In his book on the financial crisis, “Jimmy Stewart is Dead”, Boston University Professor Laurence Kotlikoff counts over 115 regulatory agencies for financial services.

115 regulatory agencies didn’t do a good job of regulating a dozen super-sized financial institutions?  Could this be due to lots of individual regulatory bodies being out of date?  At least, partially?  After all, they had come into being to audit many small financial entities who were legally prohibited from merging from 1933 until 1999, a period of sixty-three years, not to deal with 12 entities, right?  Hypothetically, could you see an alignment problem here?

It’s not quite kosher to blame these organizations for failing to regulate an industry that looked quite different after the repeal of Glass-Steagall, when they were built to audit organizations of a type that no longer existed, don’t you think?  This is like blaming the guy in charge of watching the security cameras at a local bank branch for not noticing embezzlement at another bank branch entirely.  Of a different institution.  That isn’t even a bank.

The reason for the oil spill isn’t quite so complicated.  A bunch of demonstrably corrupt people weren’t doing a pretty simple job.

All this is not because either Republicans or Democrats are in power, but because big government doesn’t work. It can’t deliver on its promises. Big government overpromises and underdelivers. In reaching to do more, big government accomplishes less. That is not an ideological statement, but an empirical observation.

It may be an empirical observation, but it’s hardly a body of data.  I can think of more than a few examples, just off the top of my head, of “big government” delivering precisely what was promised, in some cases before time or under budget, or both.  If arguing by anecdote is an acceptable method of debate at the CATO institute, I can play!

In the case of financial services, virtually all the proposed regulatory reform offers more of the same.

Yes, that’s true.  And you artfully dodge mentioning that many of the people who support “big” government have made precisely this observation, and have complained rather loudly about it.  Like this guy here.  Not to mention the proponents of small government who have complained that it doesn’t give the government enough authority to break up large institutions.

Einstein famously defined insanity as the belief that, if we repeatedly do the same thing, we will eventually get a different result.

Yeah, uh, the source of that quotation is in some dispute.

University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein has observed that we need simple rules for a complex world. The complexity of rules is self-defeating, because that complexity requires more knowledge than can be acquired. Brazil has a simple rule for directors of failed banks: They are personally liable.

Now, here’s the first bit of this piece that actually has value.  It’s true that sometimes (actually, often) you can devise simple solutions for complex problems.  Simple rules for financial oversight are probably a damn fine idea, but if you’re talking about making directors of any corporation liable, you’re talking about getting rid of the idea of limited liability corporations altogether, right?

Now, I’m busting Mr. O’Driscoll’s chops here, but in many cases I agree with the principles espoused by the Cato Institute.  I do believe that there are some problem domains where a large regulatory structure is unnecessary, or is contraindicated.  I do believe that there are some problem domains where a local regulatory structure will be more effective than a larger entity. I don’t think any of these situations are as cut and dried as Democrats, Republicans, or Libertarians would like to believe, however.

And I really wish all three groups would stop re-writing the history of current events to support their belief systems.  Strictly from the standpoint of complex systems analysis, financial collapse and the oil spill are not representative of the same sort of oversight failure.  Pretending that they are is just baloney, and bad failure analysis.

Posted June 14, 2010 by padraic2112 in politics, rants, Uncategorized

Monthly Meme IX   Leave a comment

Following up Megan‘s pointing me to Caffeinated Joe‘s tumblr/blogmeme… (Kitty‘s doing it now, too)

Day Nine: Favorite Flower

Favorite flower?  Okay, I’m a bit partial to these, since I like orange and it is, after all, the state flower:

Posted June 10, 2010 by padraic2112 in Uncategorized

I Blame Megan VII   Leave a comment

Following up Megan‘s pointing me to Caffeinated Joe‘s tumblr/blogmeme… (Kitty‘s doing it now, too)

Day Seven: Favourite TV Show

If you’re one of the few who routinely reads this blog, you may expect me to pick a 70s Cop Show, The Six Million Dollar Man, Mythbusters, The Prisoner, Top Gear, Star Trek or Space:1999.  Maybe Holmes on Homes or Firefly or Babylon 5.  Oh, wait (you say), it’s Mission: Impossible, isn’t it?  Ah-ha, gotcha Pat!

Nope!  All good candidates (fwiw, Mission:Impossible and The Streets of San Francisco tie for second), but I confess the top slot is animated.

Back in the days before DVRs, you had to record things on VHS tapes.  When this show was on, we had a VCR, but due to some now-forgotten technical problem, the timer didn’t work.  So in order to tape it, I had to be home from 3:30 until 4:00pm every day, from 03/04/1985 to 04/22/1985.  The second series ran from 04/23/1985 to 05/24/1985, and the last one from 05/27/1985 to 06/28/1985.  I missed three episodes of the original 36, something that made my brain itch until the show finally came out on DVD.

Realize that this basically killed my after-school trips to the comic book store for four months, catching the newest editions of whatever required serious sacrifice on one side or the other.  This was a catastrophic problem for a middle-class 13-year-old nerd in the mid-80s.

Jack’s not quite old enough to watch it.  Yet.  Starblazers first aired on May 8th 1979, I wasn’t yet 8; it was age-appropriate.  Jack just turned 6.  Soon!

Posted June 8, 2010 by padraic2112 in memes, teevee, Uncategorized