I understand now

I have spent far too long trying to understand the reasoning of the radical left. Since 2015 I have also spent far too long trying to understand the reasoning of the radical right, the “alt-right”.

Both could just be dismissed right away, but that is too easy and generally, you will find that reality is more complicated than that.

I have (had?) friends that moved in both circles. One of them, on the left, got very angry with me when I challenged something he had said and I couldn’t understand why; it felt so fragile.

But I understand now and I am really happy with that. I have always sought to understand.

Unfortunately, the explanations are not simple and I haven’t been able to write them down in any manner that is clearly understood. I’ll have to work on that.

Reklamer
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I like Promises in Javascript

Back in around 2002 I needed to re-implement some client-side code for an admin dashboard and struggled with the UI freezing up for seconds. I solved the issue using basically timeouts and a list of tasks, giving the browser time to update the UI and thereby the user interactive access while the content was updating.

Today I do the same with Promises. I tried it first in node.js and then with jQuery’s Deferred, and while they may be a bit hard to get your head around I like how they solve some of the common UI issues we have in development.

That being said, I am pretty sure this wasn’t the way anyone thought they should be used:

var chainedAjax = new Array;
...
var unchainAjax = function() {
  if (chainedAjax.length > 0) {
    var options = chainedAjax.shift();
    $.ajax(options).then(unchainAjax);
  }
};
unchainAjax();

This code makes a number of asynchronous Ajax calls sequentially, giving the UI time to refresh and interact between each. Why not use the success callback? Because I didn’t know the number of Ajax calls beforehand and besides this works as well. Why not use synchronous Ajax calls in sequence? Because I want the UI to refresh.

Programmers: Abusing paradigms from day 0.

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The smell of rotting cabbages

This summer was a challenge for farmers in a very different way than usually. The incredibly dry and hot summer meant that most crops matured too fast and to protect the soil, new solutions had to be used. Apparently the farmers have a lot of help from their organisations so a lot of different solutions were applied. I expect each solution depended on many factors, such as timing, soil and water.

Which leads me to my situation. I have great neighbours, though in fact they live a bit away. What I do have is farmland on two sides of my house, and for them the best solution appears to have been to plant cabbages.

Lots of cabbages.

Those cabbages were not for farming, either. They appear to only be there to keep the topsoil and enrich it, which means that the cabbages are still there, now, in the winter, slowly rotting.

So every time I go outside and I think “is there a sewer problem somewhere?” I end up realising: No, there isn’t. There are cabbages. Rotting.

PS: I don’t have a problem with this. It is one of the experiences you have when you live in a small village and there’s farmland close to your house, and I am fine with that.

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100 most important technologies

Over at Paleofuture they have written a ranked list of the 100 important technologies. It is actually interesting and while I disagree with some of the specific rankings I ended up agreeing with their #1: Nuclear weapons.

However, I disagree with their reasoning and had I agreed with it, I would never have ranked it as #1. My reasoning is very different.

Nuclear weapons is the first weapon of mass destruction that we were able to produce in such quantity and power, that we for the past 60 years have been capable of eradicating all human life from our planet. Read Nevil Shute’s “On the Beach” if you want to feel down. Great writers shouldn’t cover such topics.

But at the same time, no war has been fought using nuclear weapons since they were first used. In fact, the horrendous and dangerous threat of mutual destruction has helped us to the most peaceful time in our existence.

Paradoxical? I don’t think so.

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Every politician’s career ends in failure

Paraphrased from Enoch Powell.

In a working democracy incompetent leadership is replaced by new leadership.

When that doesn’t happen, you don’t have a working democracy.

Reading Charles Stross, I wonder if we are currently seeing a collapse equivalent to the collapse of the Age of Monarchies that happened around 1920; a collapse of the Age of Social Democracies?

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How could we live without this information?

On the original Star Wars:

Because of a record heatwave in England when we filmed the original #StarWars, most of the pilots wore only the top-half of their costume, attacking the Death Star wearing shorts. #TrueStory
— Mark Hamill

Also this:

Or the fact that Peter Cushing wore slippers when his feet were not in the shot:

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Layers on layers on …

I hear that Coolshop has a really good webshop. I’d still advise someone to look at how layers cover over the important content – such as here, where a chat layer pops up and covers the important part of the cookie consent layer.

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122 lessons learned for project managers

NASA published a list of 122 lessons learned in project management some 10 years ago. I only just found it but can attest to most of them and I believe the rest. Only, NASA seem to take project management a lot more seriously, probably because lives are on the line.

100+ Lessons Learned for Project Managers:

4. Redundancy in hardware can be a fiction. We are adept at building things to be identical so that if one fails, the other will also fail. Make sure all hardware is treated in a build as if it were one of a kind and needed for mission success.

5. Don’t be afraid to fail or you will not succeed, but always work at your skill to recover. Part of that skill is knowing who can help.

6. Experience may be fine but testing is better. Knowing something will work never takes the place of proving that it will.

9. In olden times, engineers had hands-on experience, technicians understood how the electronics worked and what it was supposed to do, and layout technicians knew too. But today only the computer knows for sure, and it’s not talking.

22. Talk is not cheap. The best way to understand a personnel or technical problem is to talk to the right people. Lack of talk at the right levels is deadly.

30. One of the advantages of NASA in the early days was the fact that everyone knew that the facts that we were absolutely sure of could be wrong. [my note: think about that one]

40. People who monitor work and don’t help get it done, never seem to know exactly what is going on.

46. Too many project managers think a spoken agreement carries the same weight as one put in writing. It doesn’t. People vanish and change positions. Important decisions must be documented.

50. One must pay attention to workaholics. If they get going in the wrong direction, they can do a lot of damage in a short time. It is possible to overload them, causing premature burnout, but hard to determine if the load is too much, since much of it is self-generated. It is important to make sure such people take enough time off and that the workload does not exceed 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 times what is normal.

57. A puzzle is hard to discern from just one piece, so don’t be surprised if team members deprived of information reach the wrong conclusion.

61. A working meeting has about six people attending. Meetings larger than this are for information transfer.

68. Never assume someone knows something or has done something unless you have asked them. Even the obvious is overlooked or ignored on occasion– especially in a high-stress activity.

75. Meetings, meetings. A projects manager’s staff meeting should last 5 minutes minimum– 1 hour max. Less than 5 minutes and you probably didn’t need the meeting; longer than 1 hour, it becomes a bull session. [my note: bull session = informal group discussion]

78. The project manager who is the smartest man on his project has done a lousy job of recruitment.

80. Never ask management to make a decision that you can make. Assume you have the authority to make decisions unless you know there is a document that states unequivocally that you cannot.

81. Managers who rely on the paperwork to do the reporting of activities are known failures.

101. An agency’s age can be estimated by the number of reports and meetings it has. The older it gets, the more the paperwork increases and the less product is delivered per dollar. Many people have suggested that an agency self-destruct every 25 years and be reborn starting from scratch.

103. In political decisions, do not look for logic– look for politics.

107. Too many people at Headquarters believe the myth that you can reduce the food to the horse every day till you get a horse that requires no food. They try to do the same with projects, which eventually end up as dead as the horse.

110. Contractors tend to size up their government counterparts, and staff their part of the project accordingly. If they think yours are clunkers, they will take their poorer people to put on your project.

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Major / Minor key

Bill Bailey on keys, including a riff on global politics:

(Youtube)

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Houses coming on the market

This article, “Cheer up, millenials! It will become easier to buy a house“, which is basically a story about how a large part of the current homeowners in USA are either moving to a smaller home or simply dying of old age, made me think if economists take this into account?

For instance, in Denmark, the data behind this graph

seems to indicate that around 40,000 homes a year comes on the market, of “natural causes”.

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