Oct 16


It’s very odd when people say a movie or TV show or book “manipulates” the viewer. I’ve got some news for you, but you know Captain Picard wasn’t really warping through space and shooting phasers, yes, and that Edmond Dantès was not a real person and was not the Count of Monte Cristo, right?

Perhaps they mean that the viewer or reader is manipulated poorly? In that case, it would seem easier just to say that the work is executed clumsily. Some of it is I think that in good fiction, the events feel more natural and they unfold more as we imagine life unfolds (and unravels).

I saw someone also recently angry that a movie used music to “manipulate” the viewer. This is basically every movie since ever, so this complaint also didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Oct 16


I still have no idea what the hell a “Minecraft” is, what it does, or why anyone uses (plays?) it, nor do I want to know.

Some things are better left just out there in the world, being all Mincecrafty.

Oct 16


Yeah, that pretty much says at all. Or arguing over straws or plastic bags.

Oct 15


by Cate Kennedy
from The Taste of River Water (Carlton North: Scribe, 2011)

In my parents’ lounge room, after Christmas lunch,
I am listening to my brother, the computer programmer,
explaining the principles of cyberspace.

“It’s basically a system of binaries,” he says,
“permutations of zero and one. So the data
may be stored as, say, zero zero one one one, zero zero one.”

My mother sighs, next to us on the couch.
She is knitting a cable-knit cardigan.
“You kids,” she says.
“I’ll never understand how you get your brains around it.
It’s beyond me.”

And she turns back to her knitting,
purl purl plain plain plain, purl purl plain.

Oct 15


I am so angry that there is no small phone any longer, and nearly none with a headphone jack. User-hostile design is fully dominant now.

Oct 15


Sears, the Amazon of its day, files for bankruptcy. It was grievously wounded by Walmart, but e-commerce struck the killing blow.

No, wrong. It was wounded by Wal-Mart, no doubt. However, it was killed by finance and financial engineering. E-commerce was ancillary and a convenient scapegoat, just as it was with Toys ‘R’ Us.

Imagine, instead, a different future. Sears could’ve been Amazon. They had the distribution network. They had the warehouses. They had 1,500 stores — thus the space for sales and showrooms. They had the experience. Those chose not to do this and instead engage in real estate schemes and financial shenanigans.

Why does the press never report the real story in these cases? You know why. Not in their financial best interest to do so. The real story of Sears is should-be criminal financial schemes doomed them, just as was the case with many other retailers.

Oct 15

The Bird Behind You

This sort of thing has happened to me numerous times (though not usually with lettuce). My stock responses are, “Me too!” or “Oh yeah, is he hot?” It really knocks down people’s presumptions and annoys them, which I am fine with. (Yes, I understand why women do this. It’s still annoying as all hell.)

The funniest similar incident was when I was at a boardwalk in Florida attempting to look at a bird. A woman was in front of me, leaning over. I didn’t even see her, because who cares when there is wildlife to observe? But then I realized she was absolutely glaring at me with pure unrestrained hatred. I realized that she thought I was looking down her shirt, which I was not — as I said, I didn’t even see her. I said, “I really don’t care about your breasts. I’m trying to see the bird behind you.” She gave me an even harsher glare (some women seem both offended if you gaze at them and if you do not, which I never understand) and huffed away.

Ok, then.

Oct 15

Bad at Directions

I just realized one of the reasons I am good at IT and infrastructure is that I am a very bad directions-follower. What I mean is that, sure, I look at the directions. I make some nod towards them.

But I try to understand what’s happening and why, not just to follow the steps unexamined. Then I usually attempt to do it my own way, armed with that understanding.

Sometimes, that understanding is wrong. Sometimes it’s fantastically incorrect, and I break something. I always fix it, but I learn something in the process — usually something important that the directions-followers don’t know.

This is very useful knowledge! It means not only do you understand why something works, you understand how it breaks — an even deeper level of comprehension. I have broken nearly everything in every possible way you can imagine and some that you can’t (though not in production). You learn a great deal doing this.

It’s funny — the exact qualities that got me into huge trouble all through my childhood make me a great IT and infrastructure person.