I mean, this is why Republicans have been swallowing Trump's shit, right? For the Supreme Court seats and the right to pass this enormous tax cut? Isn't this what they sold the republic for? If they don't pass it now, wouldn't that require them to decide to have given it all up for nothing? Wouldn't they be taking a huge personal hit to their own opinion of themselves, not to mention their own taxes, and their own donors, for no other reason than to help millions of people they've never personally met and would probably not like if they did meet? Humans are not super good at doing that kind of thing; the richer the worse, the more powerful the worse, and I just don't really see how I can expect these particular rich old powerful motherfuckers to transcend the limitations of their species at this moment in time.
Hi all, long time no post. A lot has been going on, but I’m finally starting to get on top of things again. I’ve been meaning to write in a bit more depth about some of this, but that want for perfection has been the enemy of the writing anything at all. So, here’s a quick synopsis of what’s been going on in my neck of the woods.
Both of L’s parents passed away. We’ve known this was coming, but it’s still hard of course. L was out there for a bit over a month taking care of her mom. They died very close together, so we ended up having a single combined service. I was out there for about a week helping to wrap things up before whisking L back home.
I finally got back the results of the genetics test. Turns out I don’t have Loeys–Dietz, or at least not the same genetic variant my mother did. But I definitely have something. So it’s back to the diagnostic swamp trying to figure out how to give it a name so that doctors’ll take it seriously. Current working hypothesis is hypermobility-type Ehlers–Danlos. Alas, “hypermobility-type” is medical jargon for “we have no idea what this is, but it kinda looks similar to the forms of Ehlers–Danlos we do know stuff about, so let’s call it that.” So, yeah, no medical tests to “prove” that’s what it is; just your usual game of convincing folks you have enough of the symptoms to match the syndrome.
I’ve been getting used to paying attention to my ADHD and working with it rather than trying to plow through it. It helps a lot to recognize that it’s not a failing on my part (e.g., that I can’t focus on boring things for as long as other people) but rather just part of how I’m wired. That makes it a lot easier to stop beating myself up over things, and instead figure out better ways to work with my brain rather than trying to force it into a shape it won’t take. As I’ve gotten better at this I’ve finally started getting caught up on a bunch of things that’ve fallen to the wayside over the past few years.
For example, I’m slowly getting caught up on the backlog of bug reports and feature requests for my various Haskell packages. Mostly been focusing on logfloat and unification-fd so far, but will make it around to the others in time. So, if you sent me an email about some bug or feature over the past few years and it seems to have fallen into the void, consider filing a ticket.
Still working on getting caught up to where I should be on my dissertation.
Work has also been going excellently. It’s all seekrit and nonsense, so I can’t say too much about it. But lately I’ve been doing a bunch of work on characterizing families of mathematical objects, and discovering their symmetries so we can exploit them to simplify and optimize things. So lots of mathy goodness going on. It’s a bit more geometric and combinatorial than my usual algebraic fare, but it’s the sort of stuff that arises from algebraic structures so it’s not too far from home base. (If that doesn’t make sense to you, maybe take a look at Brent Yorgey’s thesis to see an example of the connection between combinatorics and algebraic data types.) Plus, it helps that I’ve been getting to know some of the hella queer ladies who work in my building :)
In other health-y news, round about the time I got officially diagnosed with ADHD I had a bunch of friends going on about what the symptoms of allism (aka non-autism) are. Though I have a bunch of autistic friends, I’ve never really known much about what autism’s really like because all the literature is written by allistic folks, for allistic folks, so they’re all “patient has underdeveloped/insufficient blah” and I’m like “according to what baseline? How much blah does it take to count as having ‘sufficient’ blah? What are diagnostic details for measuring how much blah you really have?” So I finally got to hear some details from the autistic side of the fence, where people actually explain shit and elucidate the differences. And based on that: I’m hella not allistic. I can (and should! and have been meaning to!) write a whole separate post on this topic. I’m still not entirely sure I feel comfortable adopting “autistic” label (for reasons which are, themselves, further symptoms of autism), because my experiences don’t match up perfectly with some of the parts of what is traditionally called “autism”, but I’m absolutely non-allistic. I think the spectrum of non-allism is far larger and more diverse than allistic people currently believe, but —again— a post for another time.
People always ask me what I'm passionate about, and I tell them the following story: When I was a little kid, my grandmother took me to see an injustice. I got so mad! I threw my red white and blue popsicle down on the ground. My grandmother picked it up and said, "Winner, these colors are sacred. Never let them drop." And I said, "I know, Grandma, but I don't like to see injustice!" and she said, "That's just the world we live in. Unless you grow up and devise common-sense policy solutions to do something about it. And don't forget the men who died to give that right to you, and proudly stand up to defend her still today."
I think sex is bad unless it falls into one of the five categories below that also conveniently align with my policy proposals:
-- you are thinking about tax reform during it
-- other people are having it and you are vocally disapproving of it
-- at least one of the people involved is committed to being a great dad
-- it involves one willing participant who is a male celebrity
-- it is binding Americans together and serving to restore our common values
So one way I know that I am hopelessly sentimental about civic virtue and so on, and that part of me is an utter sucker for "common-sense policy solutions"/"binding Americans together"-type rhetoric, is that even this parody makes me mist up a little bit. Also I have literally cried (albeit on an airplane) at a Doritos ad that championed bipartisanship.
(As a young'un I came across a copy of Art Buchwald's I Never Danced at the White House and read it and thus learned about Watergate. Art Buchwald was a political humor columnist for the Washington Post. I am imagining some twelve-year-old girl in 2039 reading a Petri collection, getting about 30% of the jokes and enjoying it a lot.)
(Also I should look up whether there is critical scholarship discussing Alexandra Petri, Alexandra Erin, the Toast work of Mallory Ortberg, and whoever else is doing .... this kind of thing in this era. *handwave*)
The Sword of Winter, by Marta Randall. In the cold and dangerous land of Cherek, emerging from an era of magic and confronted by technological advancements, Lord Gambin of Jentesi lies dying and chaos reigns.
A Rumor of Gems, by Ellen Steiber. Enter the port city of Arcato: an old and magical town set somewhere in our modern world, a town where gemstones have begun to mysteriously appear . . . gemstones whose mystical powers aren't mere myth or legend but frighteningly real, casting their spells for good and ill.
Travel Light, by Naomi Mitchison. The story of Halla, a girl born to a king but cast out onto the hills to die. She lives among bears; she lives among dragons. But the time of dragons is passing, and Odin All-Father offers Halla a choice: Will she stay dragonish and hoard wealth and possessions, or will she travel light?
Nemesis, by Louise Cooper. Princess Anghara had no place in the Forbidden Tower, and no business tampering with its secrets. But she did, and now the seven demons are loose and her world is cursed, prey to the wrath of the Earth Goddess.
Racing the Dark, by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Lana, a teenaged girl on a nameless backwater island, finds an ominous blood-red jewel that marks her as someone with power, setting in motion events that drive her away from her family and into an apprenticeship with a mysterious one-armed witch.
My Soul to Keep, by Tananarive Due. When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami.
Gabriel is a mason’s apprentice in medieval England. The mason is cruel, so when a troupe of traveling Mystery players comes to town, Gabriel is delighted to briefly escape his wretched life by watching the play. Then, when the mason sadistically tries to chop off his giant mop of beautiful blonde curls that Gabriel’s lost mother told him to never cut, Gabriel flees and is taken in by the players, who whisk him away and cast him as an angel.
Gabriel assumes the man playing God is wonderful and the man playing Lucifer is terrible. But no! Garvey, who plays God, uses Gabriel to create fake, exploitative “healing” miracles which he convinces Gabriel are real. Lucie (Lucifer) is unhappy about this, but that only makes Gabriel think he must be bad.
I have no idea how old Gabriel was supposed to be. At the beginning I assumed he was around twelve, but later I decided he must be closer to ten because he was so stupid and naïve. Then he got even stupider and I wondered if he could possibly be seven or eight, or if that was way too young to be an apprentice mason. Not that young children are stupid, but the less you know about the world, the more likely you are to take everything at 100% face value, as Gabriel does.
In a totally unsurprising turn of events, Gabriel is eventually shocked to learn that people are different from the roles they play. This is exactly as anvillicious as it sounds. And while I often love books in which the reader knows more than the characters, I like it when the reason is that the characters are not privy to information or context that the reader knows, not because the characters are too stupid to pick up on incredibly obvious stuff. I don’t mean to call characters with cognitive disabilities stupid, as “intellectually disabled character fails to understand what’s going on” is a well-populated subgenre. (Which I also dislike.) I’m referring to non-disabled characters who are oblivious because they just are.
It's not that I think a child has to be stupid to be tricked by adults. Even a very bright child (or adult) could be fooled into thinking they're a miracle-worker by a clever con man. It's that the way it's written, from Gabriel's POV, makes him seem like a total idiot.
However, that’s not why I gave up on the book. The reason was the incredibly unpleasant emotional atmosphere: Gabriel smugly stupid, Garvey and the mason smugly awful, Lucie and his daughter sadly suffering (with a side of smugness, because they know the real deal.) I disliked the lot of them and did not want to be around any of them. Which is too bad, because I liked the backdrop of medieval Mystery players a lot.
The prose was good, but not good enough to make me keep reading. However, it won the Whitbread award, so my opinion may be very much in the minority.
A Little Lower Than the Angels
(Also the theme tune just switched to a new arrangement and I am still getting used to this.)
And I realized that it really does feel like the internet is a big hole that I leap into every day and then need to crawl back up all the time. And I do my work on the internet so I need to wear a harness to keep me from falling too far. Protective gear, like anyone doing anything dangerous.
("The abyss is no Sunday swan ride," as one Steven Universe character has said.)
I have sometimes referred to Twitter as an attention casino. And that is true and it's a metaphor that helps remind me that there is someone else specifically working to make money off other people's addictions and that the experience is designed to keep me there in the hopes of intermittent reward. But this sinkhole metaphor reminds me that it is the nature of the Internet to be an endless sink to fall down, and that I can wear a harness to help keep myself safe. And therefore I have just installed Leechblock on this machine.
Meditation would also count.
* installed Go, and thus learned a little about Go package installation
* remembered some things about Python virtualenvs
* it doesn't matter what directory you're in when you run a psql command to, for instance, create a new PostgreSQL user
* when helping a newer team member who seems to be floundering, it really does help with overwhelmption to say "ok, is this a list of all the problems you are facing? ok, let us address them one at a time" and then knock off the easy ones first
* petl is a Python library to make it easier to extract, transform, and load data