The Expected Happens

Published at 09:44 on 25 June 2022

Nothing happened yesterday that wasn’t expected to happen this month. As to what happens in response, it pays to revisit something I posted here last month.

But so much for the response. Let us now consider the follow-ups the Right is planning:

  • Banning same-sex marriage (source).
  • Banning contraception (ibid.).
  • Re-criminalizing homosexuality (ibid.).
  • Re-federalizing abortion policy, in order to ban it nationwide (source).

Because, really now, why wouldn’t they? They have (or are likely to have) the power, and the Left is across the board to incompetent too stop them, despite having a majority behind us on all three issues. Politics is about pursuing power to get what you want, and presently every last little bit of evidence points to the Right having the ability to successfully pursue that power.

Don’t like it? Learn to act more strategically and forcefully.

The Difference in the Situation

Published at 21:26 on 20 June 2022

There are two differences, one in favour of the West, and one in favour of Russia.

The difference in favour of the West is that Russia is not the USSR of old: it may be a nuclear power, but it is not a superpower. Russia is a huge country, but its economy is smaller than Italy’s… and that was before the sanctions imposed on it in response to the Ukraine invasion.

The difference in favour of Russia is that the USA is not the USA of old: it is still a superpower, but it is one in a process of accelerating decline, and teetering on the verge of a transition to a fascist regime with a Russia-friendly government.

I would be very surprised if Putin has not figured that latter point into his current strategy. More than likely, he his hoping to tread water in that war until the USA completes that transition and the alliance against the Putin regime collapses.

This also means that the long-term prognosis for Russia in this conflict nowhere near as obviously bleak as the Establishment pundits agree it is.

The Tide Turns in Russia’s Favour

Published at 07:02 on 18 June 2022

It’s pretty clear from the stories that Russia is now making territorial gains. This is not a surprise; revisit what I wrote as the conflict was just getting underway:

Finally, another warning: the tide can turn. Odds are, in fact, tilted towards things not always coming out as much in Ukraine’s favour as they have been so far. Remember the part above about Russia doing badly? No nation deliberately tries to do badly. The Russian forces are at this moment certainly trying to correct their mistakes. Not all of these measures will fail. Therefore, Russia is all but sure to, at least at times, start faring at least somewhat better than they have so far. Virtually every conflict has its advances and retreats; no side is immune to setbacks or missteps.

Russia is making gains. Slow, incremental, ones but gains nonetheless. This is largely due to Russia shifting its strategy to the one that was always clearly the most practical one.

But again, the battle is not the war. Russian forces have already been badly degraded by Russia’s earlier pursuit of foolish and unrealistic strategies, and this damage cannot easily be undone. Staying the course means the long term outlook is of Ukraine likely prevailing. Even in the best analysis, this thing is likely to be long and painful.

Finally there is a major difference between the situation of the West in the present time and the situation of it during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. More on that later.

A Tantrum Is Not a Software Design Principle

Published at 09:11 on 16 June 2022

Or rather, it should not be considered one. Alas, sometimes it is.

I first ran into this when I encountered the Git revision control system. It was just so disheveled, haphazard, counterintuitive, and disorganized compared to the older revision control systems I was used to. It was even so compared to other “third generation” systems like Mercurial. It still strikes me as such, and is the main reason I self-host my personal projects using Mercurial.

Then I read that a major inspiration for Linus Torvalds to write it the way he did was just to be different from CVS, because he hated CVS. Design by tantrum, in other words.

Around a decade ago I became aware of the then-experimental Go programming language. A lot of it sounded like precisely what is needed: a more modern language than C++, without all the design cruft caused by attempting to graft a modern object-oriented language onto a non-OO systems programming language from the 1970’s, that compiles down to machine code for fast execution.

But, wait. No exceptions, despite how useful they were. No generics (a deficiency that has been fixed). No conditional expression. No support for functional programming. And, due to overall design choices, no easy way to add such support. It all forced one into a very staid, unimaginative, and limited-productivity imperative programming style.

Now I read that one of the motives for making it all that way was that the language’s designers all hated C++ (I can’t blame them) so decided to make the language as unlike C++ as they could whenever faced with a decision they couldn’t sort out via alternative principles. More design by tantrum.

Not everything about CVS was bad. Just because CVS organized its commands and concepts the way it did does not make this organization bad. CVS’s problems lay in a centralized design and poor support for branching and merging. Its overall paradigm organization was actually pretty good. Unfortunately, a temper tantrum about the bad parts of CVS prevented Git’s author from appreciating its good aspects.

Likewise, not everything about C++ is bad. Just because C++ has some feature whose absence can be coded around does not mean said feature is harmful and should be deleted. C++ was, after all, motivated by a very real desire to make C into a more powerful and expressive programming language.

The problem is that choosing to focus on how bad something is can easily get one into a mindset that prevents appreciating the good aspects of it.

Resolved: while disgust at the inadequacies of some existing software system will always serve as the inspiration for attempting to create something better, a tantrum should not be allowed to be a design principle.

Tecsun PL-330

Published at 20:47 on 7 June 2022

Yes, I bought a new radio. Yet another one. Why, when I already own so many? Because this one was inexpensive, highly-reviewed, and compact, so it would encourage me to toss it in my pack on trips for which I would not want to spend the effort (or allocate the space in my bags) to a larger, more-capable radio.

First impressions follow:

It’s Small
Like, really small. Maybe the size of two decks of playing cards (but a little thicker). And surprisingly light. On the latter point, probably not too durable. But it is easy and painless to take with me. Just took it to the neighbourhood park, and it’s amazing how low the noise floor is once you get even a short distance away from houses and power lines.
It’s Somewhat Counterintuitive
No surprise here. It’s a software-defined receiver. Since it’s controlled by software, user interface is bound to suffer somewhat.
It’s Sensitive
Surprisingly sensitive, in fact. I picked up Saudi Arabia on 15170 kHz without much difficulty. New Zealand came in in 15720 kHz almost like it was a local station.
The Built-In Antenna Works Surprsingly Well
I did not use any external antenna in these tests, or antenna extensions. I tried the latter, and it seemed to overload the receiver, so I disconnected the extra wire.