A Tiny Light in the Darkness

OOP and Java may not be for everyone.
-Thinking in Java, 3rd ed, by Bruce Eckel, President, MindView, Inc.

Had to post that because, lately, it seems that everything we Americans (at least) argue about is framed into a debate about right or wrong, black or white, all or nothing. Guns? No restrictions, or ban them all. Gay rights? Live and let live, or eternal damnation. Abortion? My body/my choice, or from conception it’s murder.

Anyone in the computer world knows this kind of thinking. The ”Mac vs. PC” discussion is never about when to use one, and when to use the other. It is exclusively about which one is best, all the time.

A little deeper into the caverns of the software hermits you can hear debates about object-oriented programming (called, “OOP”) versus procedural programming. Never mind what they are (if you don’t know). The point is that they are alternatives to one another and, therefore, they have supporters and detractors. And, as with most American debate, each side argues in favor of its own choice, not as better for what it’s better at, but as better than the other choice, no exceptions.

The most popular OOP language of our day is Java. Good old C is still the most popular procedural language, with C++ being an OOP language that supports all of C’s procedural mechanisms (meaning, I suppose, that you can be rejected by either half of the OOP-vs-procedural debate if you use C++ carefully, and possibly even both, if you try hard). Eckel’s book is about OOP and Java, with a slant in favor of communicating with those who might already know procedural techniques. The line above is from the first chapter of his book. It’s a mild assertion, at best, allowing for its own truth to be in question (“may” not be for everyone, as opposed to, “is” not for everyone).

In a few quiet words, Mr. Eckel simply acknowledges that he has something to say, not something to sell. He’s not an advocate so much as an educator. Learn what you can, do what you will. You just don’t see that much today, from anyone who claims they know something you might gain from knowing too. Most of us seem to think that knowledge is also some kind of truth, and that truth compels a sort of mandate. You don’t just get to know truth: you must obey truth. Mr. Eckel allows for you to make what use of truth (or, maybe just knowledge, if there’s still a difference left) you wish.

With everyone around me trying to shine the light of their own brilliance directly into my ignorant eyes, this bit of illuminated wisdom put them all into the shadows.

Thanks, Bruce. I needed that.

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That’s My Boy!

Aplus

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Herring Recount, Day Two (Day Last?)

Looks like the Herring/Obenshain recount may be over already in Fairfax. True to form set yesterday, Mark H. continued to gain about 1-2 votes per precinct, on average. I think it’s likely that Fairfax has doubled his lead. What’s interesting is that many of the votes not counted by the machines are missed because voters filled in the little “D” next to Mark H.’s name, instead of the oval. Under the applicable law, that still counts as a clear and unambiguous indication of which name the voter chose. I heard no grousing at all from the Republicans about this. The Republican observer who sat with me as I observed a precinct recount even told me, in advance, that this seemed to be the reason Mark H. was gaining so much. And, indeed, of the two votes our precinct added to his total, one was for that very reason (the other was because the oval had a check-mark in it, which the machine missed, but anyone who looked could see).

RO

All in all, it looks like Mark H. is going to have his victory made final by an increased total, since the phenomenon affecting Fairfax’s undercounted ballots doesn’t seem likely to be unique to Fairfax. However, it ain’t over ’til it’s over, and it ain’t over for a couple more days. (Note that, at 1-2 votes per precinct, Jennifer Boysko can’t gain the 55 votes she needs to unseat Tom Rust in the 86th, but at 3-4 per, she could do it; can’t rule that out, so continue to hang onto your seat.)

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Herring Recount, Day One

Mark Herring’s staff called to ask me if I would be part of the observer team in Fairfax for the recount in the Attorney General’s race. Of course I said I’d do it, so I ran over there and watched this afternoon as Sen. Herring’s total slowly crawled higher. With about 60 precincts done, it looks like he is gaining an average of one vote for each precinct. That’s a very rough estimate and hardly a safe predictor of the final outcome, but it ain’t bad.

There were dozens of observers from both parties there. For a rarely held, almost ad hoc event, things went pretty smoothly. But, one hiccup occurred when dinner time came, and we found out we couldn’t use the cafeteria seating to order pizza (and save the time consumed by leaving the courthouse and having to re-enter through the security station). That was because the cafeteria contractor has an exclusive on catering in the building. And, we were told, this applies even when they are not there. The cafeteria closes at 3pm, but that doesn’t mean they lose their exclusive rights, even when dinner is at 6pm and you have to order out for it.

So, we left. A lot of us went to The Hard Times Café, for quick eats. I ordered the nachos. Specifically, I ordered the appetizer nachos. At The Hard Times, they look like this:

nachos

Thanks to my friend, Howard Carlin, for taking that photo (and for helping me finish off what’s on that plate). The tumbler, by the way, is full of root beer, not stout.

Two more days to go in Fairfax on the Herring recount. Here’s hoping he gets to declare victory a third, and final, time, after that.

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FactCheck.org Says Tag Greason is a Liar

My wife, Elizabeth Miller, is running as the Democratic candidate against incumbent Republican Tag Greason for a seat in the Virginia state legislature. She’s running because he voted to require victims of rape to undergo mandatory transvaginal ultrasound exams before ending their pregnancies, to ban the contraceptive pill, and for a law that could force police to investigate miscarriages (and against a judicial nominee just because he was gay, and against budgeting for mass transit, and a pile of other noxious junk).

Perhaps realizing that his record wasn’t helping him get re-elected, Tag sent out a false mailer, claiming that the highly regarded group FactCheck.org had checked on Elizabeth’s descriptions of Greason’s votes and found them to be untrue. The problem with that claim is, it’s a lie. FactCheck.org has never made any comment whatsoever on Virginia’s legislative races. They’ve previously called upon other Republican candidates to stop telling the lie that FactCheck.org has done so, and, just yesterday, they added Tag Greason to their list, reporting that he has falsely mis-used their name. (A local newspaper, The Loudoun Times-Mirror, ran a story on it too, with the extraordinarily blunt headline, “Republican Party of Virginia sending out false mailers,” and calling out Mr. Greason by name.)

Of course I support my wife in her bid to give control over our private lives back to all Virginians. But, in particular, I hope everyone who can do so will support her in trying to block the re-election of a man who simply makes up stories because the actual facts aren’t what he wishes them to be.

Please vote for Elizabeth Miller for delegate, Tuesday, November 5.

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Ted Cruz is a Fake

While Ted Cruz blathers on and on in contradiction after contradiction (by claiming that government doesn’t listen as he monopolizes the floor of the Senate to do all the talking), I cannot help but notice that, if he were a Texas senator (instead of a senator from Texas), he’d have been told to sit down and shut up, a long time ago. That’s because of this:

CruzRests

 

It’s a little hard to see in C-SPAN’s blocky online video, but he is clearly resting his arm on the podium. That’s something Wendy Davis would have been told she couldn’t do, when she stood for 11 hours, with no break, for better reasons than Cruz will ever have. In fact, not only is Cruz allowed to lean on the people’s desk, he actually gets to take breaks.

Ted Cruz isn’t half the leader Wendy Davis is. His “filibuster” is a fake, his argument is a fake, and his candidacy for president is (thanks to his loony display of the last several hours) now a fake too.

Thank God.

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Sayonara, Hiroshi

Hiroshi Yamauchi, who was president of Nintendo for over 50 years, has died. Some are saying they saw a bit of glitter in his eyes, just before the end. Leaning close, it appeared to be the reflection of these words, in a rectangular frame:

 

Congratulations, Yamauchi-san!
You have triumphed in your quest.
Press button B
To select the Next World
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My Son, as Seen by Me

At last night’s back-to-school night, my son’s art teacher invited each of us to draw a caricature of our children. Here’s my rendition of my son:

FordCaricature

Posted in Smartasses | 2 Comments

Mrs. Fernandez Might Disagree

CNN’s Web page is an increasingly embarrassing exercise in what happens when print-it-first news supersedes get-it-right journalism. Today, however, we see the smoldering fuse of something potentially destructive.

Here’s the “above the fold” portion of a story on their “CNN/Money” page:

OtherSlideDon’t take it too personally, Joe. At least they spelled your name right.

UPDATE: I was the first and only commenter on this story, noting the blunder above, when the story disappeared from CNN’s site. Hope it comes back correctly edited. I’d hate for this mistake to cost Mr. Fernandez some decent press. In all sincerity, he seems to have a perfectly sensible idea for a business.

UPDATE 2: Well, Joe finally got his story, albeit deep below the e-fold. I still think he’s got a good idea, and so do some of the others. Check him out: http://money.cnn.com/gallery/smallbusiness/2013/09/03/obamacare-startup-entrepreneur/5.html

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Another Product That Works (Unexpectedly)

So I previously posted about a product that works. Specifically, a system of buffing pads and abrasives that restores yellowed plastic headlights to crystalline clarity. It does, in fact, work. However, I learned yesterday that this also works:

Yup, good old toothepaste does a pretty good job if you take an old sock and use it to buff up those aging plastic enclosures. Takes a bit more elbow grease than a pad being spun by your electric hand-drill, but nothing says you can’t use one and the paste (and that’s got to be paste, by the way, not gel).

Here’s the “before”:

LizRB

And here’s the “after”:

LizRA

Not as dramatic a change as with the drill and the store-bought kit, but it’s a real improvement and took only a few minutes and some paste I already had.
Thanks to all the YouTubers who have put up videos of this (see here and here).
Go give it a try!

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