Religious Orders

category icon An Odd Pro-Trump Argument

Posted: Tuesday October 11 2016 @ 10:55am

Religious Order: Politics

Geez, I haven't posted for months! If only there was something going on about which to pontificate! Oh, wait...

There's a strange pro-Trump argument I've seen lately. It goes like this:

  1. Clinton did something awful.
  2. Trump has not had the opportunity to do the same thing (or worse), although he's stated he will do worse, or his temperament could easily lead him to do worse.
  3. Therefore, we can prefer Trump over Clinton because he hasn't done the awful thing.

The one I've seen most recent said "At least Trump hasn't committed genocide."

And, yes, it's true. As Secretary of State, Clinton has killed more folks via military action than Trump had. The idiocy is assuming that because Trump hasn't, Trump won't.

I view it like this. Clinton has, in the past, had limited access to a vast armory of weapons. She's much more likely to use them than I would. And, now and then, she fires off a shotgun at a group when other options would be better.

Trump has no access, current or past, to the armory, yet screams about using all of the weapons against a variety of targets while showing no understanding of the targets and how they relate to each other. Furthermore, he has an obvious hair-trigger and feels a pathological need to strike back against any perceived slight.

We have to decide which person to give full access to the armory.

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category icon Latest Tiko 3D Kerfunkle

Posted: Tuesday July 19 2016 @ 6:10am

Religious Order: Toys

Well, unfortunately, the Tiko 3D printer Kickstarter is looking more and more like a clusterfuck. They shipped (with a reasonable delay) the first 100 printers. Those printers are, well, just not working great. Then, they dropped this little policy bombshell: They're collecting usage data from the printers and there's no way to opt out. Here's the relevant text:

In terms of the data we collect, it's practically everything. Everything from how long it takes you to progress from one step in the printing process to another, slicing times, printing times, print sizes/volume, scaling/re-orientation, how often you load/unload filament, what time of day prints are started, what brightness you change the LED to, etc. Just tons and tons of raw, completely anonymous data. We use this data for everything from improving workflow (ie where do people get stuck), to improving auto-level, optimizing the slicing engine algorithms by looking at what takes longest, and even something as seemingly mundane as the average favorite LED brightness. Every single piece of information can tell us more about how well Tiko performs and how good of an experience it is, and so we collect it all. Again, completely anonymously. Also, full disclosure, Tiko stores all of this in offline mode, and will sync it with our servers upon connection to the internet. So even if you only connect to WiFi once in a while, we'll still get the data. We hope that doesn't come across as big-brothery, we're just out to make the best product and experience ever.

Don't like? They'll refund your money, then. Seriously, that's the only other option.

Of course, backers are trying to point out how stupid (and potentially illegal) this is. Tiko's responses aren't helping. For example:

We reserve the right to, but generally speaking we're not interested in selling data, but we may share some high level statistics with certain types of organizations.

Look, folks, when you find yourself in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging.

Well, maybe they'll reconsider?

We're happy to explain what data we collect, why we collect it, and what we do with it. However, we're just going to be completely brutally honest here and say that we will not deviate from this path. All we can do is ease the discomfort of not knowing the aforementioned information.


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category icon Markdown Testing

Posted: Friday July 15 2016 @ 7:40am

Religious Order: Toys

Well, let's do a test of the various formatting tricks in Markdown to see how Parsedown handles them!

Level One Heading

Level Two Heading

Level Three Heading

How those actually look will depend on the CSS I have in place. Normally, post titles are done as H3 tags. So the above might look stupid. They probably all just look similar.

There's also an underlining style of headers, which I don't generally use, but let's try them anyway:

Level One

Level Two

Hopefully that worked!

This ought to be a blockquote. The CSS does some fancy quotes around the whole thing, but I'm not at all sure I like that anymore. In any case, I'm really just typing in enough stuff to make this block wrap around a few times, to show the actual blockquoting.

Unordered Lists

Ordered Lists

  1. So
  2. Are
  3. Numbered
  4. Bullet
  5. Lists
    1. With
    2. Sub-lists

Code Blocks

You can designate text as blocks of code and have them formatted appropriately, as below:

function Code_Blocks_are_Important() {
    echo "although ";
    echo "this ";
    echo "is ";
    echo "obviously ";
    for ($1=0; $i<10; $i++) {
        echo "really ";
    echo"just made up1\n";

You can also specify the language used and often get language-specific color coding, but not here, I think. The following is tagged as PHP code.

function PHP_Code_Blocks_are_Important() {
    echo "although ";
    echo "this ";
    echo "is ";
    echo "obviously ";
    for ($1=0; $i<10; $i++) {
        echo "really ";
    echo"just made up1\n";


Header 1 Header 2
Tables are
nice but
I don't
know how
to fix
that left
margin !!!

Inlines styles

Markdown supports a bunch on inline styles, so you can italicize things, or make them bold. You can even strike text out or say something should be rendered as code.


There are a few ways of doing links in Markdown. One way is to put the link right after the text being linked. So I could link to my Github Repositories that way. Another way is to put the actual link elsewhere in the document and refer to it. When rendered, you don't see anything different, so here's a link to my model for a QR code for this blog. These should look the same in the blog, but in the source, that hyperlink for the second one is at the end of the source.

You can also do internal linking in a document. So I should be able to make a link back to the top of the post. I don't know if this will work, as I'm doing a Github specific formatting for it.

HTML Entities

Markdown also does automatic replacement of HTML entities like < and > and " and &. These should all be replaced by the appropriate codes.

Horizontal Rules

Above this should be an horizontal rule. I have no idea how the formatting will make it look. I use these to separate posts, so it's not something I would normally put in-post.


And, finally, images! Here's one:

Attention Orgasm

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category icon Code Update

Posted: Sunday July 10 2016 @ 8:35pm

Religious Order: Toys

Every few years, I decide that I need to add a feature to PolkaDot, the software on which this blog runs. It's a home-grown system I wrote long ago simply to see if I could write a blogging platform in an evening. Turns out I could!

It's not great software. If this blog received any real traffic, the processing load on the server would surely be noticed by GoDaddy. Luckily, no one really comes here!

For those who don't know, the software works like this:

  1. You write your post in a text file.
  2. You upload the text file to the server.
  3. PolkaDot turns it into a blog post, using the first line as the title and the file date as the posted-on date.

That's it!

Categories are simply directories on the server. Drop the text file into whichever category you want.

The problem is that if you want to actually do any formatting, you're stuck embedding HTML into the text. Need a table? Gotta make an HTML table. Need a bullet list? Gotta make an HTML bullet list. It's a pain.

Lately, I've fallen in love with Markdown. It's such a nice middle ground between plain text and things like HTML. I've been using it extensively at work because it's easy to generate it from data, then use existing rendering software to make it pretty on a variety of targets.

So, let's add Markdown to PolkaDot!

Luckily, I didn't have to do much work. There's a great PHP module called Parsedown that let's you convert Markdown to HTML with just a function call. All I had to do was make some modifications so that PolkaDot looked for both text and Markdown files, then handed the Markdown posts to Parsedown, while routing the text posts through the existing raft of search-and-replace madness that turns those into posts.

And that's exactly what I did today. The ordered list above is actually in Markdown. The hyperlinks are Markdown. That's, really, all the Markdown in this post, other than the italics just then.

The only problem right now is that handling both text and Markdown files changed the naming convention for the comment files. (Yes, all the data in the blog is held in simple text files.) I've renamed some, but a bunch remain. So older posts might not show their comments yet.

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The Democratic Primaries in a Nutshell

Posted: Tuesday February 16 2016 @ 7:04am

Religious Order: Politics

This probably doesn't help in choosing a candidate, but I see close parallels between Clinton/Sanders and Steve/Arthur in the movie Arthur Christmas. Movie spoilers follow:

Steve is the one with experience. He's toiled for years in the organization to get to where he is. He makes the whole operation run. He brings presents to kids everywhere, but he misses one child and isn't all that broken up about it. Instead of getting credit for the billions he got presents to, everyone criticizes him for not being perfect. He isn't the most likable person, but part of that is surely due to the pressures he's under. He simply can't afford the whimsey that his brother can wave about. He has too many responsibilities for that.

Meanwhile, Arthur has little experience, but he values each and every kid and is crushed that one is missed. And, dammit, he makes sure that one missed child gets her gift, albeit with plentiful misadventures and lots of help from others. He provides the spirit of Christmas that his brother lacks. He fits the role, regardless of his actual ability to execute the duties.

In the end, the movie acknowledges that Steve deserves to be Santa, but Arthur meets the requirements that people have of Santa as a symbol. He's the figurehead people need, while Steve continues to do most of the heavy lifting.

I think most folks look at Steve as an antagonist in the film. I look at him as a tragic character.

Whether the primaries end up like this, with Clinton left out in the cold again, I have no clue.

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 25

Posted: Saturday December 26 2015 @ 7:26pm

Religious Order: Music

I'd like to close out the advent goodness by attempting to rehabilitate a song that's been criticized a lot in recent years, Baby, It's Cold Outside.

I love this song. I love call and response songs. I love the variety of ways the roles can be played in it. (Roles. Remember that. It's important.) I love the variety of deliveries folks can give it. It's a really well-crafted song, but it's a problematic song.

The song has a bad reputation lately because, to modern ears, the lyrics sound date-rapey. It sounds like the woman wants to leave, and the guy is being a dick about not letting her do so. It sounds like he's trying to press her into consenting to things she doesn't want to do.

But that's the wrong context for it. The mistake is in sticking the song into a real-world context. It wasn't written for that context.

Look, here's the actual context for the song. It's sung by a husband and wife. No, really, in real life it was written by Frank Loesser and sung as a duet with his wife, Lynn Garland, in front of their friends. Garland adored the song and was mad when he sold it. It's two consenting, married adults, role-playing. That's not my interpretation. That's what the song actually is.

When she says The answer is 'no', she's not really saying no. In modern parlance, it would be like any sort of naughty sex role-playing, where there's a safeword when you really mean no. (Of course, this is 1944, and the naughty part is her bucking societal expectations by staying at all.)

When she says What's in this drink? she's chiding him; she's not really suspicious of the drink. They're role-playing in the song.

In the wake of 50 Shades, we have a society in which rough BDSM sex is accepted, because we all know that it's consensual role-playing. Yet, somehow, we can't figure out that this wonderful song is the same sort of thing.

Anyway, my favorite version of the song is the Ann-Margret/Al Hirt version. It's slow and sensual, clocking in at just a hair over three and a half minutes. Ann-Margret plays at innocence, purposely failing spectacularly at it.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Now, it's true that you can make the song creepy. I watched a local holiday production where they had two kids singing it. That was creepy. Of course, having them pretend to have rough BDSM sex would have been creepy, too. Some things aren't meant for children.

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 24

Posted: Thursday December 24 2015 @ 4:40pm

Religious Order: Music

People often ask me what's my least favorite Xmas album.

Well, okay, no one really asks me that, but I'm gonna tell you anyway.

It's Bob Dylan's Christmas in the Heart. Now, don't get me wrong. Dylan is a genius songwriter. I'll not even think of arguing that point. But the guy just has an awful voice. I understand some folks like it. They're wrong. When he was young, it was a whiny nasally thing. With age, it's just become worse.

This album came out in 2009, so Bob's pretty old on it. He sounds fucking awful. He sounds like a creepy uncle who might touch you inappropriately. Meanwhile, he's singing over bog-standard versions of the songs. There's nothing remotely interesting about this album, musically. There's nothing remotely redeeming about this album, vocally.

I dunno; maybe this was meant as a joke...

Christmas in the Heart

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 23

Posted: Thursday December 24 2015 @ 4:30pm

Religious Order: Music

Odd and awkward, yet still somehow endearing, here's Bing and Bowie singing a duet.

The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 22

Posted: Tuesday December 22 2015 @ 7:55pm

Religious Order: Music

I mentioned earlier how Henry Rollins' voice really wasn't suited to singing Carol of the Bells. He's just not good at fast precise enunciation. Then I mentioned that Leonard Graves Phillips from the Dickies would have been a better choice. So here are the Dickies, with Silent Night.

Silent Night

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Xmas Music Advent 2015 Day 21

Posted: Monday December 21 2015 @ 5:50pm

Religious Order: Music

Here's another song from deep within my collection of Xmas-themed music. As usual, I don't know from where I obtained it. I don't even know the name of the artist. It's a weird song, with a backing track that keeps cutting out a beat too early. It's off musically, but endearingly so.

Christmas on Prozac

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