November 7th, 2021

#7886: Anyone can write computer code.

That's not a matter of opinion; it's a fact. Anyone can do it. It's really not difficult to get the syntax right and to string commands together to make a computer do things. Little kids can do it.

I'm 100% serious about that. It's the truth. Writing computer programs is extremely easy.

Francis Porretto writes a post today about programming computers, and he blockquotes this bit:
The commonly held belief that programming is inherently hard lacks sufficient evidence. Stating this belief can send influential messages that can have serious unintended consequences including inequitable practices. Further, this position is most often based on incomplete knowledge of the world's learners. More studies need to include a greater diversity of all kinds including but not limited to ability, ethnicity, geographic region, gender identity, native language, race, and socioeconomic background.
The paean to diversity at the end is superfluous, but he's right! Programming is not inherently difficult. Anyone can do it.

Anyone can program a computer. Exactly the same way anyone can cook a meal, or drive fast, or paint, or write a story, or make furniture, or draw a comic book, or sculpt a bust, or cut hair, or make a movie. Or play baseball or football or basketball. The barriers to attempting any of those tasks are extremely low and quite literally anyone can jump right in and start doing. Programming is no different; you just need a computer and a couple bits of software.

But the real crux of the issue is how well can he do it?

As Francis Porretto used to do, Pixy Misa does it for a living. And he references exactly the same article that Francis Porretto does, and for the same reasons.

Anyone can cook, but not everyone is a Gordon Ramsay. Anyone can drive fast, but not everyone is Mario Andretti. Nor Rembrandt, nor Shakespeare, nor Stan Lee, nor Michelangelo, nor Ridley Scott, nor-nor-nor.

My wife constantly tells me I ought to try out for this or that cooking show, because I cook so well--but there is a difference between being a competent technician and being an artist. The people on those shows are artists, people who know what they're doing. I merely follow recipes.

I learned--fortunately, long before I tried to make a career out of it--that I am no good at programming. I can write programs and I can cudgel them into working, but only after first eliminating the errors that keep the programs from running, and then tracking down all the logical errors that keep the program from running correctly.

Porretto says:
Programming is hard because it's a method for instantiating solutions to problems-- and solving problems is hard. It requires sustained focus, observational acuity, the ability to separate the relevant from the irrelevant, a high degree of comfort with abstractions, a specific kind of eloquence, and the willingness to persevere in the pursuit of mistakes, whether large or small. These things cannot be taught to everyone. Those who are talented at them are consequently rare and highly paid, as I was.
Any swinging dick can write a program. But writing useful code to solve a real-world problem in a mission-critical environment--that doesn't raise half a dozen problems for every one that it solves--is very difficult. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise literally does not know what the fuck he's talking about.

* * *

Interesting bit over at Anonymous Conservative:

There is a stupendous amount of money in the drug trade. Nothing ever drove that home to me more than the fictional example from Lethal Weapon 2, where the bad guys were shipping pallets of cash back to South Africa. And then there was a story I saw, somewhere, years later, about what was found in a drug lord's house after his arrest. One item in the inventory was a pallet of American hundred dollar bills.

The drug trade generates a staggering amount of money, all of it completely off the books for everyone involved. (Seriously, are you going to report the fifty million you made, moving cocaine, on your 1040?) The politicians benefit, because the people who sell illegal narcotics set up organizations to launder the money and then donate to the campaign funds of politicians who make it easier for them to operate. The narcotics people, in fact, are happy to help the government make itself look good with arrests and seizures of drugs, because it keeps the street prices up. As long as the government doesn't actually do anything serious about curtailing the business, the drugs can flow, and everyone makes money. Lots of money.

But for that to happen, the stuff's got to move, in bulk. Sometimes you'll see stories about how this or that agency seized a submarine or an airplane with a load of something illegal aboard, but the stories are not very common and the amount seized is likely less than a few hours' worth of the nation's consumption of the stuff.

Moving it piecemeal--in amounts that one person can smuggle through customs--is probably neither cost-effective nor efficient enough. Further, we know that the CIA gets involved in illegal operations; the whole "Iran-Contra" thing comes to mind.

I don't know anything, but I find it hard to believe that illegal drugs can be so prevalent in the country without the government being complicit, at one level or another. But the fact is that the poppy fields in Afghanistan were threatened by the Taliban, and (during the Bush years) the US did something-or-other to help the farmers there continue to grow the stuff--and in the absence of the US military, one of the first things the Taliban did was to wreck opium production, with malice aforethought.

And after only a few months, there's a heroin famine in the United States.

The going theory (a couple months ago) was that there was some kind of shadow war going on between a few factions of the American government, and the CIA (and/or intelligence community in general) was one of the factions. The disastrous Go Brandon Debacle might have been a way to cut off the CIA's biggest source of illicit funding, funding that doesn't go through congress and doesn't appear on the official ledgers.

* * *

Loudoun County's school board has stepped on its own dick.
Loudoun County has been ground zero for parents revolting against school boards that have lurched too far to the left and don't feel accountable to the parents whose children they teach.

The revelation that the superintendent knew about the sexual assault, refused to disclose it during a school board meeting and is now claiming he misunderstood the question has simply ignited the powder keg--particularly now that the convicted perpetrator has been accused of another crime.
If you are resorting to claiming that you didn't understand a simple question, you're pretty much boned and might as well stop trying to deflect.
In June, the New York Post reported, Ziegler said "we don't have any records of assaults occurring in our restrooms." Yet, as the email revealed, he'd been notified of the May 28 case on the day it happened.

At that same meeting, the father of the victim in the case--Scott Smith--was arrested after he confronted district officials and a scuffle with police ensued.

Ziegler apologized for his comments at the June meeting last week, calling them "misleading" and saying he thought the question was "about the process, the experiences of students, and plans for transgender students and bathroom use during that discussion."
Sure thing, pal. The simple fact is that you lied about something you had knowledge of, using weasel words in an attempt to get out of having to admit that the very thing you were trying to make a policy for already had a black mark against it.

It's nice to see this kind of thing happening. Here's hoping that serious parental involvement in how public schools are run becomes a nation-wide thing.

* * *

Secret gamma king exults over his defeat of horrible racists. Short form: personally insulted by a couple of guys yelling "Let's Go Brandon", leftist shithead yells "fuck your mother" and then exults in how cowardly the patriots are because they didn't immediately turn around and attack the mealy-mouthed shithead.

"Real men don't yell shit from the middle of a crowd. 'Let's go Brandon' is cowardice announced."

As J.KB put it: "'I said fuck you mother and none of them took a swing at my puny ass, they must be cowards.'"

What I really like is that the douchebag himself didn't attack the patriots for yelling the increasingly-common chant. How is he any better? He's yelling shit from the middle of a crowd instead of going right to violence, after all, isn't he? Does that not make him a coward?

I call him a "secret gamma king" because that's how gamma males operate: they are always secretly the victors of any perceived conflict. They're experts at framing the event in such a way that they won and everyone else lost. "I yelled 'fuck your mother' and they didn't immediately beat the shit out of me, so I win and they're cowards!"

It assumes that the opinion of a scrawny shithead matters to the men yelling "Let's Go Brandon". It assumes that they are just as petty as the secret gamma king is, and incapable of understanding proportion.

If either of those men had rounded on him and slugged him, he would have been screaming and crying for the police, not congratulating them on how they backed up their words with their fists. Let's be realistic, here: he would have gone down after a couple of punches and started crying. "Pick on someone your own size" and "I was just voicing an opinion" and "Trump supporters are violent thugs who can't take criticism".

And something like that is, simply put, not worth going to jail for.

But even beyond that? "Fuck your mother" was the best retort this dick splash could come up with? Seriously, that's all he had--could not come up with anything, did not have anything ready (despite "Let's Go Brandon" and "Fuck Joe Biden" being around for a couple of months, now) and so the best comeback he could come up with was "Your mom!"

...which works on people under the age of fourteen, sometimes.

But of course in Twittle's leftist echo chamber, this useless little turd gets congratulated on "standing up against Trumpkins" or whatever the latest nonsense is from that group of useless extrusions.

Oh well.

* * *

I really like how this encapsulates the stories of Genesis. It's leading to a larger point, about how Christianity underpins western civilization, but just that encapsulation itself is wonderful.

* * *

Yeah, this happens, and it feels just like that. "Of course he can come over and fix that for you." *sigh*

* * *

Went to bed at midnight. Got up at 9. Slept ten hours. Time travel? Nope! End of daylight savings.

In bed around midnight, woke up at 4, set clocks back to 3, went back to bed, got up at 9. 4+6=10.

We got back the hour we sacrificed in the spring.

I understand the reasoning behind DST, though. In summer, the sun rises at 4:30 AM CDT and sets around 9 PM CDT. If we were on standard time, those would be 3:30 and 8. What good is it to have the sun rise so early in the morning?

But if we go to DST and stay there? Come December 21, the sun will rise at 8:30 in the morning and set at 5:30 in the evening. What good is it to have the sun rise so late in the morning?

The idea of DST is to make sure that sunrise occurs reasonably close to normal working hours. Since daylight moves around so much over the course of the year, we need to make temporary adjustments.

Screws with your head, but we're used to it, and I don't see that changing.

* * *

Anyway, it's going on 12:30 and I need to get after flushing the heater core on the Jeep. And once I've finished that, I need to cut the damned grass. *sigh*

Well, could be worse. Projected high for the day is 63, and for November that's positively temperate. Hopefully that'll get my heat working, and then I can look forward to winter with a little more optimism.

So, off I go.

#7887: *dink*

Went out to the driveway to flush the heater core in the Jeep. Moved Mrs. Fungus' car, backed the Jeep into her spot (so the effluent could run downhill) and then opened the door to pop the hood--

DINK! made that sound when the hood release lever came off in my hand.

I lifted the handle up to inspect it. Yep, the cable had broken, all right. No way to reconnect it. Handle attached to 3 inches of square metal shaft, and the cable was swaged into the end of the shaft. That meant that the end of the cable was way back inside the housing that the shaft went into.

So I removed the kick panel and unscrewed the housing, then used a cutoff tool to separate the housing from the cable which--I checked first!--was molded into the housing. Looking at the way it's put together, it can't be otherwise; there's no way to attach the cable to the lever. I'm pretty sure the whole thing is replaced as a unit.

But by cutting the housing off, I had exposed about an inch of cable, and was able to use vise grips to yank on it and get the hood open. All this cost me maybe twenty minutes, so I proceeded with my plans.

Long story short I managed to flush the heater core pretty thoroughly, but I don't think I got all the blockage out. To be honest, I'm not sure the hoses are completely clear, either. What I do know is that the air coming out of the vents is only marginally warmer than it was before, which means the hot water from the engine can't circulate through the heater core, which means I need to remove it and replace it with a new one. There's just no any other way around that; there is too much crud in there.

Of course, I was using toilet cleaner rather than CLR, because the store was out of CLR. Both have the same active ingredient--hydrochloric acid--but the CLR is less viscous and is probably a higher concentration. But I hooked a garden hose up to the heater core's outlet hose, let water flow through at full force until clean water came out; blew it all out with compressed air and then filled with coolant.

Guess that'll have to do.

Anyway, after that was done, I got on the riding mower and got the grass cut. If that's not the last time this year, it's the penultimate one.

So: got everything done this weekend that I wanted to, with varying levels of success; but it was mid-60s outside and a gorgeous indian summer day, so it was nice to get outside and do something instead of staying in and just flopping around.

But of course, getting the Jeep handled has led me to having another job to do. I'd better order the part.