Final Minutes…

A plague is upon the clan. It came first for the children, slowly turning them into foul fountains of noxiousness. My wife and I ministered to them for days, knowing what was to come.

At last, it came for my wife. She soldiered on for many hours, but eventually succumbed to it, ensconcing herself in blankets and pillows in the corner of a couch. Grimly, I carried on the business of life, deprived of my beloved partner.

Then, a few hours ago, the faintest whisper of a shiver brushed my spine. Knowing the clock was ticking, I hurried the entirety of my besieged clan through the absolute necessities of the evening, every passing moment developing new portents of what was to come as I navigated dogs, children and wife through what passed for dinner and evening ablutions. All preparations were completed just in time, as my alimentary tract began to visit violence upon me.

The shivers have now returned, and I have only these few precious moments of clear-headedness remaining to me in which to chronicle our travails.

I am: “Bed Man Walking”

Posted in Family, For Facebook, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Thought-policing Triumphant

Today, Facebook and Twitter began a purge, ostensibly to get rid of “spam”. In their announcement, Facebook described their reasons in some detail, and at least one of those reasons chills my blood.

*I* discovered what was going on because two of the Facebook pages I tend to watch because they twig me to political/social developments that rarely make it to major news outlets suddenly began showing up as:

After visiting their websites, I became aware that per Facebook, they had removed “559 Pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

In and of itself, removing fake accounts and spam isn’t terribly disturbing. What *is* disturbing is that the two pages I was looking for, “Free Thought Project” and “Police the Police” are *NOT* spam, or inauthentic, or even particularly “coordinated”, by any reasonable definition. The only part of Facebook’s statement that would even remotely apply to either would be:

these networks increasingly use sensational political content – regardless of its political slant – to build an audience and drive traffic to their websites, earning money for every visitor to the site. And like the politically motivated activity we’ve seen, the “news” stories or opinions these accounts and Pages share are often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate. This is why it’s so important we look at these actors’ behavior – such as whether they’re using fake accounts or repeatedly posting spam – rather than their content when deciding which of these accounts, Pages or Groups to remove.

Let that sink in a minute. Valid news, “indistinguishable from legitimate political debate” (which I’m almost 100% certain is a really dishonest way of saying “legitimate political debate”) is being banned because the topics they choose have been arbitrarily declared “sensational”, and/or (gasp) they try to sell stuff on their websites to support their publishing!

How much “legitimate political debate” has been banned, as opposed to actual spam? No one knows for sure, but reports by “The Anti-Media” (also banned) and Slate seem to think that this is a purge of almost exclusively political pages and members. The wild part is that while much of the banning seems to have been oriented toward conservative/pro-Trump organizations, a large portion seems to have targeted pro-left or libertarian groups/accounts.

Now, to be sure, Facebook and Twitter are private organizations, and have every right to do whatever they want with their platforms. The nightmare here is that a *lot* of these groups are anti-establishment in tenor, and their very popularity is likely what got them banned. In a climate where most of the electorate opposes the actions of our government in one way or another, and for the first time in a long time is actually somewhat energized in that opposition, is it surprising that alternative media groups not willing to ignore actual problems unaddressed by the major media or political parties would be popular? I don’t know what percentage of the banned sites were actual spam, rather than “sensational topics”, and there are surely a number of valid removals, but even a five minute search of the internet turned up dozens of perfectly valid, if somewhat small and overly ad-contented news outlets in the latter group.

Facebook and Twitter are only two of many media outlets, certainly, but they currently constitute a massive percentage of the world’s news discovery channels. There is a massive cost to moving to smaller social media outlets in terms of viewership and ability to remain financially solvent. Actions like this one WILL kill off a large number of the smaller, issues-based media sites, regardless of affiliation.

First they came for the speech of the Nazis, and I did not speak out-
  Because I was not a Nazi.
Then they came for the speech of the tin-foil-hat conspiracy theorists, and I did not speak out-
  Because I was not a tin-foil-hat conspiracy theorist.
Then they came for the speech of the people who thought the police shouldn’t murder unarmed people in our streets, and

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A Borrowed Musing on Fatherhood

From my all-time favorite poet…

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky;
Contrariwise, my blood runs cold
When little boys go by.
For little boys as little boys,
No special hate I carry,
But now and then they grow to men,
And when they do, they marry.
No matter how they tarry,
Eventually they marry.
And, swine among the pearls,
They marry little girls.

Oh, somewhere, somewhere, an infant plays,
With parents who feed and clothe him.
Their lips are sticky with pride and praise,
But I have begun to loathe him.
Yes, I loathe with loathing shameless
This child who to me is nameless.
This bachelor child in his carriage
Gives never a thought to marriage,
But a person can hardly say knife
Before he will hunt him a wife.

I never see an infant (male),
A-sleeping in the sun,
Without I turn a trifle pale
And think is he the one?
Oh, first he’ll want to crop his curls,
And then he’ll want a pony,
And then he’ll think of pretty girls,
And holy matrimony.
A cat without a mouse
Is he without a spouse.

Oh, somewhere he bubbles bubbles of milk,
And quietly sucks his thumbs.
His cheeks are roses painted on silk,
And his teeth are tucked in his gums.
But alas the teeth will begin to grow,
And the bubbles will cease to bubble;
Given a score of years or so,
The roses will turn to stubble.
He’ll sell a bond, or he’ll write a book,
And his eyes will get that acquisitive look,
And raging and ravenous for the kill,
He’ll boldly ask for the hand of Jill.
This infant whose middle
Is diapered still
Will want to marry My daughter Jill.

Oh sweet be his slumber and moist his middle!
My dreams, I fear, are infanticiddle.
A fig for embryo Lohengrins!
I’ll open all his safety pins,
I’ll pepper his powder, and salt his bottle,
And give him readings from Aristotle.
Sand for his spinach I’ll gladly bring,
And Tabasco sauce for his teething ring.
Then perhaps he’ll struggle though fire and water
To marry somebody else’s daughter.

— Ogden Nash
Posted in Family, For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Conversations From Engineering Hell: Part 1

Me: I spent an entire week going over every line of code by hand. The problem is in the database.

Coworker: No, it can’t be, there’s nothing in there that can do that. You just need to buckle down and find it in the code. We’re wasting a lot of time here!

Me, 1 week angrier: I spent an entire week going over your database procedures by hand. Here’s the procedure causing the problem, with your comment explaining why you were making the bad call.

Coworker: Oh hey, yeah, huh, look at that. Well, it’s late on Friday, I’ll get to it next week. Have a good weekend!

Me: Not if you open the package I plan to overnight to you…

Posted in Personal | Leave a comment

“Free” Public School

You know what it costs to send your child to “free” public preschool? $12000 per year. That’s how much.

How is that possible, you ask? I certainly asked that too! Let me break it down for you:

  • You pay more than $1800 per year to the federal government for education funding (approximately 3% of federal budget).
  • You pay $4000 per year to the city for school taxes
  • You enroll your 4-year-old in his $5800+ “free” preschool, and are told “Oh, but school ends at 1 pm, so if you work at a job, you’ll have to enroll him in ‘wrap-around care’. That will be $6000 dollars per year, please”.

    Note that if we enroll our child in private preschool, the most expensive program around costs just over $10,000 per year (‘wrap-around care’ included), just over $1800 per year less than “free” public school. But of course, then we’d still have to pay the $5800 for the “free” public school we weren’t using.

    “Livid” is not the right word for how I feel about “free” public school. It’s much too tame. Maybe “Murderously enraged”? “Teeth-gnashingly furious”?

Posted in Family, For Facebook, General, Personal | 1 Response
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