Michael S. Manley

I either missed or forgot that Ben Bova died last fall. They just released the last novel he conpleted. I read dozens of his books as a kid, one of which was the first book I ever finished and thought, “Wow, an author can make mistakes like that?” (Cyberbooks was that novel.)

This is the kind of content I think the web needs to get back to in a big way: 8-Track Heaven

For anyone you know who might need it: Vaccines Work. Here Are the Facts. | The Nib

Pure evil. Terms and Conditions Apply

Fellow children of the 80s, read this and say it with me: “No shit, Sherlock.” 1980s pop culture was all about impending, inevitable nuclear doom. Tom Nichols at The Atlantic: I Want My Mutually Assured Destruction

I have a vivid memory – cir. 1983, so I’d’ve been 14 – walking into the room while Reagan was on the TV & asking my grandmother if he’d announced the war with Russia had started. I didn’t think there’d be any other reason for him to be on in the middle of the day.

I remember a (delusional) sense of relief when the Soviet Union broke up. There was just enough of the weight of that dread finally lifting. I think this is why these constant existential threats don’t send me into a panic. It was always going to happen.

Now that this comic has ended, I feel compelled to go back and re-read the whole thing again: Back by KC Green and Anthony Clark. Highly recommended.

I don’t mind if Matt Bors’ comics come out weekly or annually. I’ll be there to read them nonetheless. Happy that he’s going to continue running The Nib, one of the best publications out there. Matt Bors: I’m Quitting Politcial Cartooning

New Shirt, Old Memories

Prior to Holiday World, my jobs had all been farm work, putting up hay or working tobacco for neighbors and getting paid in cash out of a farmer’s wallet at the end of the week. In the summer of 1987, I made $3.35 an hour – minus taxes and the rent on 5 SaniClean uniforms a week (name in a blue oval patch over the breast and everything) – swinging a weedeater or pushing a lawnmower or occasionally digging out the icy, knee-deep clay next to a leaking room-sized freezer, from a few hours before the park opened until a few hours before it closed. By the end of the summer, I was about fifty pounds lighter and had no problem breathing through a respirator mask all day in the humid Southern Indiana summer air. I don’t think I’m violating any kind of NDA by reporting that Santa Claus’s real name back then was Ray, though I might be misremembering that. The experience of that summer inspired the first story I selected for my MA thesis, and a second story, “Believing in Santa Claus”, that became one of the first pieces of fiction I ever published. I still think about that job any time I see a ditch that someone has left unmown.

So when they offered up these shirts for sale earlier this year, I broke my usual rule about no clothing with words or pictures or patterns and snapped one up. Showed up in the mail today. Happy anniversary, y’all.

Zach Weinersmith accidentally provides the first compelling argument that we do live in a simulated universe: Users

I’ve spent the last several months implementing programmatic advertising and because of this have had cause to think a lot about this dictum: “The purpose of a system is what it does.” I can tell you, this has not helped my natural cynicism.

He wrote a lot of good books, made a lot of good movies, but The Last Picture Show will always be my favorite of his in both categories. RIP, Larry McMurtry

I realize I’ve arrived terribly late to this particular party but, friends who have read the novel by Iain M. Banks, “Matter,” was that just a great big middle finger to the writers and readers of epic fantasy?

In other news, SecondLife is actually still a thing. Why Second Life’s Most Famous Cyberpunk City Now Has A Homeless Camp

Horrifying, dystopian, late-capitalist nightmare fuel: neurosity.co Naturally they use a white, male, brogrammer for the model. A MediaPost article on this POS (regwall: bit.ly/3lBsGPv) raised the spectre of “neuromarketing,” at which point I bailed.

Evidence that you never stop acquiring new language, even at my advanced age. Today I learned “echt” (eKHt: “authentic and typical”), a word I had never heard nor seen before, apparently derived from German and Yiddish.

<medium.com/pragmatic…>

I’ll admit that I bought a membership to Medium solely out of annoyance. I ran into too many articles on software development lodged behind the paywall. (In particular, discussions of open source projects.) I considered the annual fee a nuisance cost.

With this content, Medium made that cost deliver much more value than the price. The Programmatic Programmer influenced much of my journeyman thinking in software development, and many other books in the press’s line helped my career over the years.

In particular, the book Behind Closed Doors by Johanna Rothman and Esther Derby is still a resource I would hand to any young engineer facing their first management job.

I’m not certain I would consume a lot of technical publications this way, but I applaud the PragProg publishers for trying this experiment.

There once was a time when I wanted a tiny house. Please enjoy “Tiny House Living” by Kristiana Willsey in Fantasy Magazine.

Not a bad list for only six years on the job.

Most everything is subject to endless debate, but two things I find true after over thirty years doing this:

  1. If your software doesn’t solve a real problem that real people have, no matter how well-written it may be, it isn’t interesting. Real problems include exercises that help you learn how to build software, and many games, but not 90% of the stuff launched on ProductHunt (looking at you, “Squat-O-Meter”).

  2. Don’t just reflect on what went wrong in retrospectives: Celebrate what went right, too. That’s not a waste of time. Ignoring a team’s successes is just as damaging long-term as ignoring a team’s dysfunctions.

A horror story in the Late-Stage Capitalism sub-genre: <www.lastweekinaws.com/blog/aws-…>

I spend entirely too much time thinking about the “Six-Fingered Hand” storyline in “The Defenders” from 1981. Shown here, IIRC: The entire town of Citrusville, FL is sent to Hell, leaving only a steaming crater.

Today’s episode of “The Next Liar Doesn’t Stand a Chance”: <www.thenation.com/article/p…>

As I lifelong anosmic, I have lots of advice for those suffering the loss of their sense of smell due to COVID-19. Here’s the most important bit for foodies and cooks: Your sense of taste will adjust, but you should try to get familiar with a lot more spices.

Whole bunch of dummies yesterday feeling like Marvin the Martian, I’ll wager. <www.youtube.com/watch>

Don’t let the missing ‘n’ fool you: 45 pardoned a Harkonen. Even though it was “Scott” and not Feyd-Rautha or Vladimir, this was clearly still meant as a slap in the face of House Atreides.

Today’s recommended reading by Tom Nichols: Trump Destroyed the Most Important Virtue in America. Here’s hoping for a return to seriousness.