There’s Always Problems

I was Googling for sources about nuclear power for my new political views garden, and I came across the following statement in reference to nuclear waste: I know that burning fossil fuels is bad, but we can’t just start another problem just because we can’t fix the first one. I’m not trying to single out the person who wrote this (and therefore no link, and the quote has been edited for spelling and grammar which I hope has rendered it un-Googleable), but I do want to respond, generally, to the sentiment, which I think is unfortunately common.

Asking Nicely: Avoiding Passive and Aggressive Communication

How do we ask the other people in our lives for the things we need and want? This can be difficult for everybody. Many of us have trauma from a society that continually tells us that we don’t deserve to have help meeting our needs, or from past situations where our needs have been neglected. We are also often aware that asking for things can sometimes be upsetting to the people we ask.

Is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment Undemocratic?

US politics continue to be interesting. As many of you know, the Colorado Supreme Court has recently ruled that Donald Trump should be struck from the ballot in Colorado. Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, if you’ve sworn to support the Constitution, and then engaged in (or “given aid or comfort to”) an insurrection, you are no longer eligible to serve in office. The Colorado Supreme Court applied this law to Trump, citing the Capitol attack of January 6, 2021.

Can computers think things?

This blog post isn’t about ChatGPT. It isn’t about machine learning, neural nets, or any mysterious or border-line spiritual form of computing. That’s a whole ’nother set of philosophical and metaphysical conundrums (conundra?). This is about a way people sometimes speak, informally, about bog-standard boring non-AI computers and computer programs. You’ve probably heard people speak this way. You’ve probably spoken this way sometimes yourself: “The server thinks your password is wrong.

Verbal Tics

I remember hearing an idea once – I’d like to cite it, but proper citation seems difficult, as I heard it from an acquaintance, and Mr. Google isn’t being his usual helpful self. The idea was, different politicians have these verbal tics, these filler catch-phrases, that indicate their deepest conversational anxieties. For President Obama, it’s “let me be clear.” According to this thesis, he is really concerned about being unclear, and this tic is so prominent in his speech that it shows that his biggest anxiety is being insufficiently clear about something, as waffling, or evading the deep issue underlying all the petty concerns.

Debt Ceiling, Redux

So you might or might not be aware about the debt ceiling argument currently taking place in the US. I’ve already written about this, but President Biden for some reason didn’t listen to me (perhaps because he doesn’t read my blog – which is disappointing). Other, more famous people have written about it too,, but the President insists on pretending he has to make a deal with the Republicans. So, to catch everyone up, here’s how this all works.

Voice is Hard

I was reading my ADHD blog post today, considering whether to send it to a friend, and it was surprisingly hard for me to bring myself to. I realized I was embarrassed at the voice, the phrasing, the lack of beauty in the individual words, all of which is something I paid relatively little attention to before – and which my friend, who also writes, will definitely notice. It’s something I’ve paid less attention to than I should.

Write Everything Down (Part 4): My Desktop Environment

I’d like to share with you how I use my computer, in a way that is (for me) ADHD friendly and well-suited for implementing my organization system. Tools are important to any organizational and productivity system, and optimizing your tools for your brain and your workflow are important. My computer is my most important productivity tool, where my work happens, and where my life/chore/errand/calendar organization happens, so it should be an interesting example of an optimized key tool.

The Debt Ceiling Is Unconstitutional, and Biden Should Just Say So

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. US Constitution, 14th Amendment, Section 4 The debt ceiling is unconstitutional. We’ve let the Republicans play their games for long enough, in the interest of “stability of the economy” and a general fear of rocking the boat, but that time is over now.

Christmas Disappointment: Smashing Princes and Cities

Today, in liturgical Western Christianity, it is the 10th day of Christmas. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate the extended edition of the holiday! Unfortunately, this essay is not a celebration of Christmas, but rather an explanation of why I have often found it disappointing recently in life, because of a disconnect between the promise and the reality. Every time Christmas comes around, I think of a classical sacred choral piece that I’ve performed in multiple different choirs in youth and adulthood, from Mendelssohn’s Christus, namely “Es Wird ein Stern aus Jakob Aufgeh’n” (“There shall come a star out of Jacob”).

God grant me patience… and I want it RIGHT NOW!

I’ve been feeling recently like I’ve been spinning my wheels in my personal life. I’m pressing on the metaphorical accelerator as hard as I can, probably too hard for safety, and instead of moving forward, the wheels are just spinning, spinning, spinning. I think a large part of it is my perspective of time. “Time is canceled,” my friends and I would say continuously during the lockdown. And it isn’t back, not yet, not how it used to be, not for me.

More on Mortgages

Mortgage interest rates have recently risen, and are currently very volatile. At the time of this writing, PSECU, my credit union, is offering mortgages at 5.125%, much higher than the 3.125% I locked in at, but lower than the peak above 6% I had recently read about in the news. But what does this mean in practice? Well, let’s run some numbers. Understanding how expensive a house is can be confusing.

Can you reproduce it?

NOTE: This post has the #programming tag, but is intended to be comprehensible by everyone, programmer or not. In fact, I hope some non-programmers read it, as my goal with this post is to explain some of what it means to be a programmer to non-programmers. Therefore, it is also tagged with “nontechnical”. What is the most important skill for a software engineer? It’s definitely not any particular programming language; they come and go, and a good programmer can pick them up as they work.

Biking to Philly

I am out of biking shape. I know I am out of biking shape. The pandemic has not been good to my physical fitness. (For the record, this isn’t a proper edited and outlined and triaged essay, just some notes on my past weekend.) But as out of shape as I am, I also know it’s only 25 miles from here to Philly on the Schuylkill River Trail, and so I figured maybe I could do it without any additional prep.

Crank-’em Out

For a time, I tried to cultivate an interest in Go. Not this Go, but this Go. The interest didn’t last long – like chess, I had a hard time getting up to even a fairly basic level of competence. And I quickly developed another enthusiastic interest to replace it – sometimes, an interest just doesn’t work out, and it’s nobody’s fault, and you have to just move on and not get too sad, because there’s plenty of fish in the sea.

Mortgages are Interesting

I just bought a house, and it came with a mortgage. I bought the house and committed to the mortgage all in one ceremony, in a cute little office where I signed enough papers that the sellers were able to solemnly hand me the keys to my new castle. In the lead-up to this, I was told how early payments, mortgage insurance, and refinancing works, and it’s – I think very reasonably – been on my mind since.

Burying the Lede

Imagine you don’t know who Napoleon was. You know he’s a figure from history, but you don’t even know he has to do with France. And imagine, when you read the Wikipedia article, for some reason you skip the opening paragraphs above the fold, and you’re reading about his upbringing in Corsica as a petty Italian noble under French rule. And you just want to know, why’s this guy important, what’s his deal, why do people keep talking about him (something military, it seems?

All Rent Should Be Cancelled

Even early last week, before restaurants were closed, before we were banned from unnecessary gatherings, when many people still had to go into their office jobs, the bars were empty on my street. I walked into one, ordered a cocktail, asked the bartender why it was so slow. It was usually slow on Tuesdays, of course, but normally there was at least one other customer. But the pandemic had already scared everyone else away, and if it continued, the bar would surely have to close.

Father, Forgive Them

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Jesus, on the cross (Luke 23:34) My grandfather always used to love telling a certain anecdote about Calvin Coolidge. He was a man of such few words that one time, President Coolidge went to hear a world-famous preacher preach. Upon returning from the sermon, his wife asked what it was about. He replied “sin.” Not satisfied with the answer, the wife asked, “Well, what did the preacher have to say about sin?

Experiences in Switzerland

Just wanted to write up a summary of random notes from my Switzerland trip, not including the conference which was also a lot of fun but I think less interesting for my non-programmer friends, slash it might make for a better separate post. SIM set up It was relatively easy to buy a Swisscom SIM card in the airport, although they did not offer to set it up in my phone for me.

Music and Lyrics

I just finished singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in a concert as a member of the Grace Church Choral Society, and it was the most technically difficult piece I have ever sung in a choir. It was a single piece of concert length, a mass setting, as is custom for our spring concerts. It was all in one language: in this case, in Latin. This is different from our holiday concerts in the winter, where we sing a variety of Christmas-y and otherwise celebratory works in a variety of (European, Christian) languages, including English.

Is the US the only country?

A common trope within left-leaning American circles is to claim that the US is the only “developed” or “industrial” or “major” or “first world” country to not have X, where X is usually something like “publicly funded health care” or “government-guaranteed paid family leave” or similar. Recently this came up with Bernie Sanders and his common refrain that the US was the only “major” country to not guarantee health care as a human right.

The Bible, Me Too, and Lust

[Jesus said:] You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

India: Little Differences

Second collected thoughts on India. More Communitarian, Less Individualistic, Through Food and Beverage There is much less emphasis on individual choice. If you order tea (chay in Hindi) it will come with milk in it. If you order coffee, it will come with milk in it. They will not ask you how you want your coffee. Similarly, when I was in a cab ride between cities, I was not asked what food I wanted at the rest stop.

Adulting in India

The Way of NYC When I first moved to New York City, someone older and wiser than I gave me the following “rules” of New York City: Nothing is cheap. Nothing is easy. There are no exceptions to the first two rules. I found this to be extremely true in New York City. It was stressful and exhausting, and I was broke and living off an advance I’d gotten from my then-employer, living in AirBnB’s I could put on credit card, where I could maybe stay in each for a month, tops.

India: Zeroth Impressions

Everyone’s been asking me how India is and has been wondering if I’ve gone exploring. I haven’t really. Sunday I was just recovering from jetlag and yesterday I had work and then I immediately had to go home and crash I was so tired: so I guess again recovering from jet lag? This would normally not prevent me from exploring, but I’m honestly a little outside my comfort zone. I am not in a walkable neighborhood of a city like I expected, but next to a huge highway.