The Latest Political “WTF?”

Published at 22:49 on 30 June 2012

The President of Paraguay was recently impeached, not because he broke any laws or anything, but for so-called “poor performance of his duties”. In this case, that means firing two officials (the chief of the national police and the minister of the interior) in the wake of violence involving the national police. To make matters stranger, the votes in congress were both wildly in favor of the impeachment, meaning that they were backed both by the impeached president’s own party and the opposition.

I’ll confess to not knowing much about the Paraguayan constitution, but if Paraguay is like most countries, both sacked officials supposedly serve under the president and at the president’s approval. That’s probably why a number of neighboring leaders aren’t taking too kindly to the antics. This includes President Piñera of Chile, who is from a right-wing political party, so this can’t be accurately portrayed as simply a case of leftist leaders trying to shield one of their own from being held accountable for malfeasance (of which there really doesn’t seem to be any).

More details here and here.

An Executive Summary of Ruby

Published at 10:06 on 15 June 2012

I’m having to learn it for work purposes, and have already studied the language enough to be able to offer the following brief executive summary:

Ruby is a merger of an elegant, Scheme-like language which offers functional programming and metaprogramming with an ugly Perl-like syntax and design philosophy.

Thinking of Moving to Portland? Read This!

Published at 18:54 on 12 June 2012

No, I’m not going to rehash why I’ve chosen to leave Portland and not return; I’ve done that enough already, and most of the reasons for doing so are personal and thus not necessarily applicable to most others.

And no, I’m not going to try and talk anyone out of it. Portland is indeed by many measures a great place to live.

What I am going to do is warn anyone against moving there without a job in the hopes of finding one once there. Unless you have a lot of money squirreled away, and are prepared to weather a significant period (read: a year or more) of unemployment, don’t do this!

Portland has the most depressed economy of any major West Coast city. Expecting a job — any job, but especially a good job — to materialize just because The Great You just moved there is the epitome of self-centered magical thinking. I’m still subscribed to a Portland-area mailing list, and I’ve lost count of how many “Help! I moved here and a job did not materialize for me!” type messages I have seen.

To reiterate: it is not easy to find work in Portland. Even for what are entry-level service positions in most other major metro areas, in Portland employers will expect experience, often significant experience. If you don’t have that, they will throw your résumé out and move on. And odds are they will find someone with the desired experience.

Also, don’t assume because that because you do meet the minimum requirements for a job, even a menial one, you can easily score one. You might end up competing with (and losing to) other applicants who well exceed those requirements.

I am not being negative here; I am merely being realistic. There are many great things about Portland, but the local economy is definitely not one of them. It stinks.

If you’re itching to try living in Portland, find the job first, then move. Or be successfully self-employed. Or save up a lot of money and gird yourself. Or fly out and couch-surf with friends and be prepared to fly back if you don’t find anything.

Just don’t pull up stakes and expect something to materialize because you need it. Or I will just say I told you so.

Cautiously Optimistic the Bastards are All Dead

Published at 19:25 on 8 June 2012

I’m back home after fleeing for a week to let the scabies mites die in my absence, after treating myself a second time with permethrin. After some worrying false alarms caused by scratching provoking old rash areas to temporarily inflame (only to calm down in a matter of hours), I’m at the point of being on the optimistic side. Though it’s probably going to be a while before I cease worrying completely about reinfection, given how hard it was to get rid of the infection.

I have yet to figure out how, absent a good measure of luck, one is supposed to ditch the buggers without doing as I did. The insecticidal ointment is intended to be applied before bedtime, left on for 8 to 14 hours, and washed off in the morning. Given that, there’s really not enough time to do the thorough cleaning you’re supposed to do while you’re toxic to the mites.

Which leaves two options for performing the cleaning, both of them unacceptable: Attempt to do the cleaning prior to treatment, and risk infecting what you are attempting to clean, or do the cleaning after treatment, and risk reinfecting yourself.