May 14

Bond issue

There’s a lot of things that Donald Trump doesn’t understand. Bonds ain’t one of them. What Trump suggested was taking advantage of a core attribute of tradable bonds: When interest rates rise above what they pay, the resale price of the bond goes down.

Yep! It was really horrible but not unexpected that both the left and the right criticized Trump vociferously for something he understood just fine and almost no one in any news venue — including all the financial ones — comprehended at all.

Even the first commenter on the linked post has no clue, stating “But isn’t that like paying off your old debt on a low-interest credit card by borrowing more money on a different high-interest card?”

NO. FUCKING NO. Repeat after me kids: fiat money is not like your checking account or your credit card. The federal budget is not like your bank account. It just isn’t, never will be, can’t be, won’t be. Ever. Yes, ever. Give it up and shut up about it.

In fact, not a single commenter in the post understood at all — and this is not controversial. This is how bond markets work. This is how sovereign debt works. There is no other way. This is just how it is, period. There is no debate. The commenters (and 99% of the financial press and 100% of everyone else) is just plain wrong. And have no clue.

Note: Trump’s plan isn’t actually a good one, precisely, but there is nothing technically wrong with it. He said nothing incorrect. But he doesn’t control the Fed and probably never will (even if president), so it would not likely be put in place.

But Trump understands 100% how bonds and their markets function (and the US monetary system) and almost no one else does. (I’m quite certain from her statements that Hillary Clinton does not, but then again no other presidential candidate including Bernie Sanders does, either.)

May 13

Del

Sadly, just deleted Ars Technica from my bookmarks. Add that to the other 70-80 sites I’ve deleted in the last few years as they are simply unreadable and unusable.

I might link to Ars content if I see it on another site, but won’t visit there by going to their homepage again.

It used to be one of the very best tech/science sites out there. Now it’s just another boring content farm with a terrible, eye-shattering design.

May 13

Dark patterns

The stupidest, most fucking worthless, most asinine, most half-baked, most oafish, doltish and barmy response when someone complains about a bad design is to say, “Everyone always complains about a new design, so this means nothing, durrr.”

I’m thinking now of Ars Technica, but it happens every time there’s a new destructive design. Some Ars-employed moron observed that every new design they’d ever done had elicited massive complaints but that’s because every design for the last 15 years has been worse and more unreadable than the last.

Getting away from a moment from ranting rage, what is the sociology of this tendency? Why (or is there) an entire user-hostile and sense-hostile culture of design? How does something like that even develop?

Because that site doesn’t look good on a tablet, phone or desktop machine. So what the heck is it designed for? What is its purpose other than funding some design firm?

The sociology of this sort of thing is really interesting to me, though I have I fear little insight into it. That’s probably why it’s interesting. If I were a managing editor of a site like Ars, I’d fire every damn person who had anything at all to do with such a design atrocity.

What’s also mysterious is when traffic falls and the most devoted readers scamper away madly, no one ever questions the design as a cause — or they do only in a case like Digg, where the design caused such a precipitous decline in traffic that it was not possible to ignore as it literally drove the site out of business.

So, what gives? How has destructive and bad design overtaken all sense? Will we ever return to a relatively-sane design period that held from roughly 1998 to 2005 or so?

May 13

Drop it

For some reason I have the Snoop Dogg song “Drop It Like It’s Hot” playing on repeat in my auditory cortex.

Don’t even like the song, but it is a strange one.

Lisa Mitchell, you’re my only hope.

May 13

A place so foreign

I wish sf felt more foreign. I wish it felt more like my attempt at learning to read Egyptian hieroglyphics did.

I know this isn’t practical. But at least steps in that direction could be.

Just watched the Star Wars: Rogue One trailer. First, I think it’s great that two Star Wars movies in a row have had female protagonists. It’s weird that some people see this as a “stunt” when they don’t say the same thing about a male protagonist in any film.

But back to the main point — the trailer didn’t at all feel like it was from a galaxy long ago or far away. Even accepting the humanoid morphology of the main characters, they felt culturally American/British. A Western in space — again. (Don’t get me wrong. I like Westerns in space. Firefly, the paragon of the genre, anyone? But we need more than that.)

Strange how nearly all sf contains characters with our mores, or even worse the mores of the 1950s, with similar clothes and hairstyles and ontological outlooks as contemporaneous people. I know why it is this way, philosophically speaking. But it no longer pleases me. It’s no longer enough for me.

I don’t think anyone makes the sf I’d most want to read or to watch. Maybe I’ll have to do it myself.

May 12

Large

What a lot of people term “extreme dieting” now would’ve been when I was a child called simply a “normal meal” or even in some cases a large meal.

The same progression happened with soft drinks. When I was seven or eight, the largest size you could buy is now the very same size as the smallest size available at most fast food restaurants.

The “small” 8oz size that used to be what most everyone ordered is now not available at all, anywhere.

May 12

Arse non-Technica

Damn, the new Ars Technica design is foul.

Mobile and morons have destroyed the internet completely. That site is an abomination. Does anyone actually want that?

Won’t be visting as much any more. Impossible to find anything.

May 12

This time

I’ve lived an epic life.

No intent to brag; just grateful. So much more than I thought my future would hold, could ever hold.

And so fortunate that I was smart enough or lucky enough to not get caught doing some of the things I did when I was younger, and even more clever that I stopped doing them.

I’ve seen amazing things. I’ve even done some of them. Through providence and circumstance, through pain and chance, I got to do just so many things that so many people insisted on telling me were just not possible for someone like me. And all with an amazing and unreservedly lovely partner, too, for the past decade. And a great friend for nearly as long, too.

I’m not even angry at those people anymore, by the way. I don’t need to show them anything. They do enough to themselves. Once you’re really happy, it doesn’t matter anymore.

I’m not where I thought I’d be at nearly 40. That was dead, by the way. Not only am I not dead, but have such a life that my younger self would’ve boggled at.

Fuck yeah for not giving in to the people telling me what I couldn’t do.

May 11

Word docs and aftershocks

I love it when people want me to write a work instruction for some extremely complicated, highly context-dependent activity. And of course to write it in such a way that someone with no experience can follow it end to end.

This is not possible. Just not.

If you could have some document telling an intern what to do, you WOULDN’T NEED ME.

Sure, I’ll write that document. I’ll write it and then I’ll spend the next three days either explaining to said Level 1 person how to do the actions, actually doing the actions for them, or correcting the huge fuck-ups that result when management convinces itself that 20 years of experience can be distilled meaningfully into a Word document.

I know, it sucks paying me such a sum for what I do, that you can’t yet outsource it to someone chained to a wall and beaten with bamboo rods on the hourly.

But that’s the way it is. The intern can’t build a datacenter. The intern can’t even boot their own machine up.

If I could write a work instruction for most of what I do, I’d write a script and sit at my desk and lollygag while the script did my work for me.

Simple as that.

May 10

Critiqued by reality

It’s interesting to see so many older people so terrified of something as relatively innocuous and unlikely as Bernie Sanders having had the slim possibility of being president.

They are more frightened of that prospect than of Trump winning — which I can’t make sense of, really.

I suspect part of it is that Sanders is an implicit critique of the entire ethos under which they’ve lived their whole lives — and during which they’ve indeliberately but nevertheless in a very real and direct way harmed their own offspring. Though they are not the first couple of generations to bring great harm upon their own progeny, those in the 45- to 75 age cohort are perhaps the first to do so with the most awareness — possible or actual — that it was being done and how to stop it if they so wished.

They did not and do not wish that, it turns out.

This guilt must be an enormous and insuperable weight. Otherwise, how to explain Kevin Drum, Lance Mannion and their weird maundering posts about how Bernie Sanders is some Josef Mengele-level corrupt evil genius.

Just some New Deal democrat whose party has retreated so far from him he’s had to call himself a socialist.

For those who’ve demonstrably made the world worse for their own children, how could they support a candidate like Bernie Sanders, or like Jill Stein, when this is a condemnation of their very selves?

They could not, of course. The human psyche does not permit such things, such self-negation.