Sgt. Code Monkey

Bomb throwing

I keep telling myself I need to get back into LJ rather than Facebook, as the conversations here are much more useful. This, of course, requires I actually do something with LJ rather than think about doing something about LJ.

So here's a contribution, based on some discussion elsewhere.

Several folks in the other discussion commented that names elided philosophies only work in small groups. Well, yes. Communism, objectivism, theism, etc, also work just fine in small groups, as do a lot of other systems. The necessary component for them to work in those groups is that all members of the group have bought into the core tenets to such a degree that they will not leave the group, and they will blame any failings of the tenet on failures of the individual – including themselves, if necessary.

When the group becomes large enough and/or interaction with the rest of the world cannot be avoided the group collapses, or become monstrous isolationist tyranny, or strikes out to impose their model on the world. There are very few models that are flexible enough to avoid this trap.

Conversely, there are a surprising number functioning, peaceful, reasonably free societies (countries, governments) in existence. As imperfect as they are, they are proof that such things are possible. They're possible, but they messy, mistake-prone, and sometimes downright ugly. Still, compared to the isolationist groups or the governmental tyrannies we see, they're a big win. That win is one of the reasons why even though modern politics often makes me nuts, I'm reasonably happy with the world. The mess is why I still occasionally stick my fingers in the fan.

When one gets frustrated enough to think the world has to change, it's easy to forget the price of purity of vision. It's OK to think you are a master race, or have the one true religion, or know the one true governmental/social/economic system. But the attempt to impose that belief on others will wipe out every benefit you think will be obtained, and ultimately leave your system alongside so many others in the dustbin of history.

Politics, government, economics and philosophy are messy. We'll never have a perfect answer for any of them. What we can and should do is continue to strive to minimize those evils without inadvertently creating more evil. It's not exactly a glowing vision of the future, but hey, it works.
Sgt. Code Monkey

A favorite moment from Anthrocon 2010

Today I stumbled over one of my favorite photos from Anthrocon, 2010.

One evening at the convention center an attendee brought a quite expensive Yamaha keyboard into lost and found. It had been left in the music jam room, and he figured the owner might not want it to grow legs. We logged it in and hid it so that no random attendee would claim it.

A little late that evening an attendee wandered in and reported his keyboard had disappeared. He provided a convincing description down of it, so we returned it to him:

The log entry for its return reads: "Gave expensive Yamaha keyboard to random black guy."

Posted with his permission.
Sgt. Code Monkey

Out of Context Quotes

Lasted in our series of out-of-context quotes, this time from Furry Connection North. No, I have no idea why some of these things were said. Others . . . well, I'm not talking. In most cases, I've removed the names of the speaker.
Overheard from two attendees in lobby:
Attendee 1: Hey, did you hear what's-his-name got banned from the con?
Attendee 2: Uh, what's-his-name who?
Attendee 1: You know, um, his name rhymes with 'Dick' (clearly pejorative)
Attendee 2: You mean (name nothing like Dick)?
Attendee 1: Yeah, him.
For those of you who don't know, I'm "Sgt. Steve" and I have a medieval weapon which is nicknamed "The Thagomizer."

OOCQ: A staffer makes an enquiry about Sgt. Steve's weapon, is corrected:
Attendee 1: "It's the *thag*omizer, not the *fag*omizer."
Attendee 2: "Oh, that makes more sense."

I just don't want to know why that makes more sense.
Staffer 1: "Have Chilly make sure that Kenny is fixed."
Staffer 2: "I don't think we should use that word here."
Attendee 1: "Dude, are you a Nazi alcoholic?"
Attendee 2: "Yes, I am."
Staffer: "The only warning you will get is the faint odor of dryer sheets and bourbon."
New security staffer, on being asked what working his first furcon was like: "It's like being a five-year-old on acid, without having to take the acid."
Duty officer, starting shift: "Dance, my minions, dance!"
"Put that away, I have to be gay tonight."
Seen by Garrison on Twitter: RT @ksonney: @boxpenguin Disney ain't got nothin' on the #Dorsai Irregulars for crowd handling, except maybe bigger crowds.
Staffer, upon reporting an ample young lady in a low-cut top was asking another staffer to let her into the Sponsor lounge. "Boy, has she got the wrong ammo..."
Staffer, describing his most recent shift: "I was basically being a comfort to the naked people..."
"I must have been Hitler in a previous life."
Girl: OMG what's in my boobs?
Guy: Mostly boobs.
Girl: Ah, my room key!
Guy: Again?
"Why does it smell like retarded dolphin out here?"
"Bad dog, no eating the staff members."
"It matches my shirt sort of; my ears keep falling off."
Duty Officer: "The 'Q' in qwrist bands is obviously silent."
Attendee: "Thank you for asking them to stop."
Security: "We weren't asking."
Dave Stein and Gabe Helou were standing together. An attendee walked up to them. He pointed at Dave and said "Dorsai." He pointed at Gabe and said "Door sized."
"You know the rules. Rules that we made up arbitrarily."
Sgt. Code Monkey

Side-benefit of working Furry Connection North

We're working Furry Connection North in April, and I've been attending the occasional convention committee meeting since they're local. Todays meeting was not only productive and interesting, but had a side benefit. This was the week they do the beer tasting to decide what goes in the hospitality suite. We're 12 beers into the list of 18, and two things are perfectly clear:
  • There are some excellent brews being made here in Michigan;
  • I should have had a much larger lunch.
  • Sgt. Code Monkey

    So You Think You Can Dance review

    Except for the final awards, the 6th season of SYTYCD is done. My opinion?

    For most of this season, Jakob and Ellenore have been my favorites. Going into the final, the only question in my mind was which of the two were the best. Jakob is a better dancer, Ellenore a better performer.

    But tonight Russell and Kathryn both shouldered their way up to their level. In particular, Russell may have shouldered his way to the top. His technical chops are a cut below Jakob, but dammit, he's got so much more personality and presence that it's a very tough choice. Yes, he's not as good a dancer as Jakob. But he's come so far this season that with another year, he might be. His ability to reach the audience is the best of all the performers, and this is a show to vote for America's favorite dancer, not necessarily the best.

    Ellenore, Ellenore, Ellenore. On a technical basis, she's second only to Jacob. But it took her a long time to unwind and get more personality into her performance, and she still doesn't have half the presence of Russell. I think she got hurt tonight by the odd routine she and Ryan did. It was interesting as abstract dance, but just didn't affect me. And on a night when most of the rest of the dances were excellent, it was possibly the worst pick for her.

    Kathryn is good, but whatever the judges are seeing in her is mostly missing me. Don't get me wrong, I won't be upset if she turns up the winner. But in my book, she's #4 by a narrow but clear margin.

    As for Ryan and Ashley . . . well, it's not difficult to put them as my #5 and 6 in this crew. Ryan grew a lot but never reached the level of the other four. He was an excellent partner, and the only guy with top-notch upper body strength. But that one makes him good supporting cast, not a star.

    I wouldn't have put Ashley into the top ten. Frankly, Molly had passed her in quality by last week and should have been in the final six. Note also that I didn't much care for Molly earlier, and would have voted her out some time around the cut to 14 or 12.

    That said, Ryan and Ashley's performance together tonight was wonderful. Not great dancing, but pretty darned good dancing. What made the difference was their chemistry and performance in that number. Touching, honest, and memorable.

    Something not about the dancers: could this show possibly have been more rushed? Nine couples dancing vs eight plus solos the previous week, in one hour rather than two. The judges comments were terse even when they wanted to gush, and boy, this would have been a great week to gush. I also missed the film of the practice sessions, which were usually informative and entertaining. Today's would have been particularly interesting, as the dancers had to learn more dances and learn them with three different partners. Cutting it back to an hour was definitely not a good idea.

    Conversely, a two-hour finale tomorrow with lots of guest performers? I predict a lot of fast-forwarding on the tivo.
    • Current Music
      Tom Wait, "Going Out West."
    Sgt. Code Monkey

    Slices of life, part 2 - baby hunger

    About six months after Kate was born I went out of town for a full-week conference. Things were perking along just fine until someone with a baby in a stroller went by. At that moment I desperately missed Kate and desperately wanted to pick up that baby and coddle it. Since then I've found that happening any time I was away from the kids for an extended period of time. It only faded when they were graduating from high school and "parent" stopped being such a defining role in my life.

    This week I've been at a conference in Baltimore. And when a kid about the same age as my granddaughter goes by, I get an urge to go play with it. Some things don't change, they just move around.
    Sgt. Code Monkey

    Bad Code of the Day

    This two-line subroutine, with the name of the actual subroutine changed to protect . . . well, to protect somebody, was stumbled across during a review of other code today. There was no comment anywhere close to it, and the name didn't give much of a hint as to what it did:
    int check_something_incomprehensible(void *a, char *value)
        if (!a) return UNBADARG;
        return UNINVALID_KEY & -!!strncmp((char*)a, value, 4);

    The sad part? I knew immediately what the & -!!strncmp... is doing, thanks to previous adventures with the same author.
    Sgt. Code Monkey


    Wow. It's supposed to get into the 90s Sunday and Monday, with rain. They will be the first real summer days we've had this year. I was beginning to think it wouldn't happen at all.
    • Current Music
      Professor Longhair, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans"