blarg?

Guys guys great news: it turns out that panicky superstitious people who deliberately misinterpret their shallow understanding of an incredibly narrow slice of a foreign culture they’re otherwise completely disinterested in aren’t reliable predictors of anything at all ever.

Who saw that coming, right?

I like to imagine that for months now somewhere in the Yucatan peninsula people have been saying “Oh shit, man! The white people’s calendar ends on December 31st!!” and then howling with laughter, because somehow it’s hilarious every time.

I’ll level with you: I’m not very good at reading code.

I had an interview the other day that featured the dreaded read-this-code segment that’s inevitable in modernity, and reading somebody else’s Python without context, with a regex or two thrown in for kicks… I know there are people who can do that really well, but man, I’m not one of them.

To try and atone for how that went, I’ve written a thing I’ve been meaning to get done for a while, a kind of high-level analysis tool for Git repositories that will be able to give you some suggestions based on historical commit information. It’s called gitcoach, and it’s over on github if you’re interested.

The idea is that it takes look at a project’s whole commit history to see what files tend to get modified at the same time and then looks at what you’re working on now; if you’re working on some file Foo, gitcoach can tell that hey, historically anyone who’s had to change Foo has also changed Bar 92% of the time, and Baz 80% of the time. So, no guarantees, but I suggest you look at those too.

There’s more you can do with that data, perhaps obviously – the nice thing about the general idea is that whenever I mention it to somebody, they think of some other thing you can do with that data that I hadn’t even considered.

So that’s something.

It’s not a finished product – there’s some known bugs and missing features listed in the README, and some others I’m sure that I don’t see yet. But there it is, and hopefully it will be useful for people trying to find their way around a big or new projects.

Sorry about the regex question, dude.

I’ve had this in the queue for a while, not sure why it didn’t get put up. Well, here it is.

Get a bottle of a good bourbon. I’m partial to Woodford Reserve, myself, but there’s clearly room for disagreement here. But if I said “good bourbon” and you thought “Wild Turkey” or “Jim Beam”, then good Lord, son. No. Turn off your computer, pack your bags and move out of the fraternity immediately. It’s time. Leave your sweatpants, jerseys and sportball caps behind; they are the things of children, and you know in your heart that you are no longer that child. Today is a new day; go forth, young man, and bro no more.

Once you’ve worked that whole life-change process through and secured the bourbon, get some really good whole-bean coffee.

As above, there’s room for disagreement. And likewise if you thought “Starbucks” then you’re due for a second spiritual-growth vision-quest where you come back knowing the difference between the bouquet of a fine wine and whatever’s left of a burning sneaker after you’ve put it out by pissing on it. You’ll have to work out the specifics there yourself but you get the idea. Just get it done.

Personally, I’m partial to a lightly-roasted north-African coffee; they tend to have a complex, floral flavor to them that I think offsets the rich, buttery taste of Woodford Reserve very nicely. If you’re partial to a bourbon with a brighter or sweeter taste, a Bulleit for example, they’ll pair well with something more robust that’s been roasted mid to dark. Experiment, is my advice; there’s lots here to love, and much science to be done to refine it.

The process is:

  • Measure out a little over half of a cup of coffee beans and a full cup of bourbon.
  • Pour the coffee beans directly back into the bottle, topping the bottle back off from the cup of bourbon.
  • Close the bottle back up and put it in a cool, dark cupboard.
  • Drink the leftover bourbon.

You’ll need to wait at least four or five days for that to properly infuse, maybe as much as a week, and don’t rush it; you’ll only be cheating your newly-grown-up-with-a-refined-palate-that-deserves-better self – but take it from me, you’ll be happy you did.

And thus it came to pass that in the last moments of the end times, as the worshippers of the Ancient Ones gazed on His final ascension from the depths, that their minds were broken and spirits shattered in those last moments before they were consumed as great Cthulhu approached them, Gangnam style.

Just to set the mood, here’s a bit Matt Taibbi wrote about the ability of the American left get themselves organized, specifically with respect to the anti-war protests in 2007:

“The post-sixties dogma that everyone’s viewpoint is legitimate, everyone‘s choice about anything (lifestyle, gender, ethnicity, even class) is valid, that’s now so totally ingrained that at every single meeting, every time some yutz gets up and starts rambling about anything, no matter how ridiculous, no one ever tells him to shut the fuck up. Next thing you know, you’ve got guys on stilts wearing mime makeup and Cat-in-the-Hat striped top-hats leading a half-million people at an anti-war rally. Why is that guy there? Because no one told him that war is a matter of life and death and that he should leave his fucking stilts at home.”

A week ago, in response to the short-lived and possibly illegal Respect Democracy get-Rob-Ford-reelected site, I put up RespectTheLaw.ca. I publicized it with two tweets, it got a few thousand views and sort of made the rounds, at least as far as the small pond of Toronto-politics-on-Twitter is concerned.

The “Respect Democracy” site was completely obscured – it was difficult, intentionally, to figure out who is behind it or what the information is being collected for. I built Respect The Law with just one breadcrumb in it, one more than none, deliberately put my email address at the top of the source. Links to source material but no other pages, affiliations or policy statements, again deliberately.

It didn’t take long for people, via Twitter and email, to ask me to confirm it was me, which I did. But then a surprising thing happened – I got a lot, indeed quite a lot, of pushback from people asking me what my usage and data retention policies are, and accusing me in pretty stark language of being an enemy of democracy. “You either believe in accountability and transparency, or you don’t” said one poorly-nuanced commenter, they were not alone.

The most interesting thing about this is that all, not some or most but 100%, of the criticism I’ve received for the effort has come from self-described “leftists”. And these weren’t polite requests for information or gentle suggestions, my goodness no: these were repeated assertions that I wasn’t taking data integrity, transparency and accountability seriously, and was consequently a bad person.

Well then.

On the one hand, that is absolutely a legitimate concern. I did not tell anyone who I am, how I intended to use that data, or how it was stored. That’s absolutely true.

On the other hand: honestly, put a fucking sock in it.

I’m a straight-up socialist. Not a liberal or left-leaning, but an actual socialist. We live in one of the richest societies in the world; our schools and libraries should be palaces. Our hospitals should be the envy of the entire planet. Our boulevards and public buildings should be towering edifices of stone and steel that we’ll be proud to pass down to our great-grandchildren along with clean air and clean water, freely and equally accessible to all of us. And I’m increasingly convinced that the reason so many people call themselves “centrists” now is that calling yourself a “leftist” is a license for every unshaven pinhead with a Che shirt you cross paths with to explain to you, in granular, inclusive detail, how you’re doing it wrong.

I suspect I’m going to go back to that myself, if only to save myself the hours in the day. You know what’s way, way more important to me than the “progressive” label? Making some fucking progress. So next time you see somebody trying to move the world a little closer to the way you both think it should be, but you disagree with their approach? Put a lid on it and let them work. The political right by and large gets this, and consequently they can get a lot accomplished. The left, us, well. Not so much.

I’ve added a usage policy page to the site, clearly visible before user data goes in.

Thanks for your feedback.