Distraction in Real Time


One of the things about necessity and the motherhood of invention is that such notions can be misogynistic.  Cramming for finals or writing a resarch paper on a last-chance all-nighter is what it is, but at some point the parenting metaphors invite questions of neglect.  Consider, for instance, the idea of displaying two blank spaces in HTML.  It can be done, but you must type or macro a particular markup.  And, well, eventually the marketplace did get around to certain aspects. Continue reading

Loops and Tangles


It seems an uncertain question; there are, after all, trivial occasions and results, but what of habituation? To the one, you say to the child, “I am going to [do this]. What do you think?” To the other, you say to the adult, “[The child] wants [this].” When it is what one intends to feed the child, perhaps this isn’t a particularly important distinction. But it really does feel, in other moments when you tell people what the child wants about various things, like a setup. And at some point amid the repetition it does occur to wonder: Is it that you don’t think I hear? Or do you really think telling a child something and then asking a binary question establishes what a child wants?
     To the one, we are all human. To the other, that this is not necessarily uncommon behavior is part of the point. Or the problem. The rest is less certain; perhaps there are occasions when the child says no, but on the occasions I do, in fact, hear, it seems a pretty predictable process.

It’s True, I Really Don’t Get It


Certain little software issues arise along the way, and it’s true, I just don’t understand why. Like one day, caption data starts disappearing from the image files I’m making with GIMP. I finally figured out the problem by reading a fifteen year-old bug report on exif data that was allegedly resolved way back when. And now it’s apparently not a bug; this is the way it goes now. But it was strange, because the problem showed up only occasionally, at first, and then one day just was. And there was no ongoing update. It was squar’ in’tween updates.

Did my update notifier just break my system? I don’t think so, but it is also true there was an update waiting when I checked. (It’s a joke about my particular Linux flavor and spice: If stuff starts acting weird and slowing down, check the update manager; once it has an update to give you, it really wants to take care of the thing, but for whatever reason the only way it lets you know is by slowing everything down.) It is true I like to blame APIs in the age of HTML 5; as a blogger, it seems everything started going to hell around the same time every website got their new bells and whistles and all the end users got out of it was a bunch of lousy pop-ups, drop-downs, and overlays.

But this is really quite simple: I have not been hallucinating my find & replace method for the last five years. Longer? Hell, I don’t remember. But you cannot convince me I have been dreaming this bit where I can highlight text, hit a key combination, and have my text replace interface waiting to replace the highlighted text.

I was actually ahead of schedule when Gedit broke. It’s just a lot of stuff to highlight and replace by hand. So much for the schedule; I should probably get back to replacing.

But, yeah. The moral of the story: Never set goals.

No, really, I was going to finish all of a few minutes early, and now I’m over a couple hours behind and pretty much finished for the night.

Because I somehow managed to break Gedit.

Honestly: How the fuck do you break Gedit?

It Almost Seems Deliberate


MEMORANDUM

To: YouTube

re: Really? I thought this part was obvious

So … you know that little thing you have where we click for the option to say we don’t want you promoting this or that kind of video? Why does it not work? No, really, when I tell you to not show me this, don’t turn around and promote the same damn video again.

Canon and Theme: Notes on Belief and the Loss of Magic


“What do you think is become of the art of forcing the thunder and celestial fire down, which the wise Prometheus had formerly invented? ‘Tis most certain you have lost it; ’tis no more on your hemisphere; but here below we have it. And without a cause you sometimes wonder to see whole towns burned and destroyed by lightning and ethereal fire, and are at a loss about knowing from whom, by whom, and to what end those dreadful mischiefs were sent. Now, they are familiar and useful to us; and your philosophers who complain that the ancients have left them nothing to write of or to invent, are very much mistaken. Those phenomena which you see in the sky, whatever the surface of the earth affords you, and the sea, and every river contain, is not to be compared with what is hid within the bowels of the earth.”

―Rabelais, 1534

“There are not many persons who know what wonders are opened to them in the stories and visions of their youth; for when as children we listen and dream, we think but half-formed thoughts, and when as men we try to remember, we are dulled and prosaic with the poison of life. But some of us awake in the night with strange phantasms of enchanted hills and gardens, of fountains that sing in the sun, of golden cliffs overhanging murmuring seas, of plains that stretch down to sleeping cities of bronze and stone, and of shadowy companies of heroes that ride caparisoned white horses along the edges of thick forests; and then we know that we have looked back through the ivory gates into that world of wonder which was ours before we were wise and unhappy.”

―H. P. Lovecraft, 1922

“It had taken him years, and much conniving, to get access to the mighty, and more trickery still to learn which of them had dreams of magic. When pressed. He’d used the jacket, seducing those who fawned upon potentates into revealing all they knew. Many had no tales to tell, their masters made no sign of mourning a lost world. But for every atheist there was at least one who believed; one prone to moping over lost dreams of childhood, or to midnight confessions on how their search for Heaven had ended only in tears and gold.”

―Clive Barker, 1987

“See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.”

―Robert R. McCammon, 1991

Incongruity and the Moment


Bloom County, by Berke Breathed. (n.d.)

The weather report for the next couple days is hardly catastrophic, but neither is it pleasant, and that in turn brings to mind talk of blustery, wet, generally unpleasant winter expected to be, overall, too mild to build significant snowpack in the Cascades, and while it is easy enough to hope such chatter is, well, merely chatter, it is also rather quite tempting to mutter something about, Damn it, Nature! stop wasting water like that!

Except, you know, we’re the human species, so the next thought to mind is also pretty obvious: Oh, right.

____________________

Image note: I’m pretty sure I was playing around with the photocopy filter in GIMP. Never mind. It’s Bloom County, by the one and only Berke Breathed, and I’ve a date of 26 March 1982 for this particular episode.

e-Commerce


MEMORANDUM

To: Amazon.com

re: Communication breakdown

This is pretty straightforward: Once upon a time I ordered something from Amazon. The seller sent the item. The item arrived. All is good in the world. Right?

Okay, so, big deal, right? But it’s a few months later and this order still registers as shipped, but not delivered. Here’s the good news: It was delivered. All is good in the world. Right?

It seemed worth telling the seller. Indeed, I know what happened. At the end of the day, the product was delivered on time by a guy driving a twenty year old Ford Taurus, bearing credentials from a courier I hadn’t encountered before. Big deal, right? The item I ordered is here: It is the right product; it is undamaged; it is on time; I am satisfied. All is good in the world. Right?

All I want to do is communicate directly with the seller, to advise them to close the book on this one. What I do not understand is why that is so difficult. I’m sorry, but what I need to tell them does not fit any of your pre-selected suggestions. You do not have an easily identified pathway to allow this communication.

So, you know. Whatever. Maybe the only way to let the seller know is to explain in a bad review. It seems a lot easier to simply drop a line to say, “Hey, by the way, I got this; you can log it as delivered.”

But that’s just not the Amazon way, is it?

No, really. The product purchased arrived on time and in good condition. For the sake of a bureaucratic omission somewhere in the chain of custody, this is not logged in the Amazon delivery record. I would like to advise the seller that this is taken care of, but there are far too many hoops to jump through just to find out I’m in the wrong place. It’s actually quite astounding what effort you have put into making certain nobody can actually communicate with anybody else.

Look, whenever I grumble about Amazon, someone I know reminds that the company is constantly rated for the highest customer satisfaction in this or that exactly meaningless survey. Those surveys would probably count more if they were capable of accounting for this kind of dissatisfaction: Amazon is so hostile to consumers that we cannot even help satisfactory sellers make certain their book is up to date.

For whatever reason, we seem to take this out on politicians. Go figure.