Friday, May 29, 2009

All Side Effect

Pretty sure this fails to conform to the intended use of properties:

        int _alarmEventCount = 0;
        public int alarm { set { _alarmEventCount += 1; } }

Not my code, but by a coworker who is good, so I'm sure there's a logical reason how it came about.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hair Clipping Issues

This is stupid. There is an ultimate fighting video game coming out that cut a character because they couldn't figure out how to render his hair. Which, fine, maybe if you didn't take something like hair physics into account early in the project, then you get to the character models and can't figure out a way to make it look non-stupid.

But then they tried to get the actual guy to cut his hair, so they could give the character model short hair. Why not just give the character model a haircut? People would understand.

And up until that point I'm giving the game studio the benefit of the doubt, because I can understand how that could be a kind of unforeseen wrench in the works for which there's not an obviously ideal solution. But it turns out their game also can't show people fighting in a left-handed they show everyone as right-handed! Seriously that is like making a baseball game and realizing your engine can't handle bats so they just render everyone with golf clubs.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's Wiffin' Season!

Played some solid w-ball on Sundy, in honor of our fallen soldiers.

We played this version under which, instead of keeping track of imaginary baserunners, you have to actually run on a hit and then get an increasing number of points for each base you get to safely; fielders throw the runner out by getting the ball back to the mound with the runner off-base.

It makes playing with more than two people easier because each person has their own score, and you don't have to worry about teams or anything. And the get-the-ball-to-the-mound dynamic introduces some of the interesting parts of baseball that are left out from the wiffle rules I've played under before: for example, if the pitcher runs to field a grounder, one of the other players on defense needs to cover the mound to get the out; and it actually becomes advantageous to throw pitches that will be hit for grounders that will be fielded for an out, whereas under the official rules it's often better to go for a fly out.

We also played using the softball ("king") size wiffle ball, which was not as weird as I had anticipated. It actually seemed to curve better than the baseball size, though maybe it was just that the larger size made the motion more visible. It's definitely easier to jam a finger in one of the holes (nullus) to throw a changeup, though. In any case, I had some success with the changeup/changeup combo, and with throwing a curve for a groundout, though my slider was as hittable as ever.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kind of Disappointing

So no Democrat Socialist Party for us. Too bad, this stuff tickles me to no end.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Book of Neuteronomy

So we are supposed to get Prancis's balls chopped off soon, and our neighbors told us about the ASPCA's mobile spay/neuter truck. It so happens that it's going to be near us on Saturday, and we can save a couple hundred dollars by getting him neutered there instead of at the vet's.

I am a little hesitant because the program is intended to provide services to low income communities and they perform only a limited number of operations (25 animals a day) on a first come/first served basis. There is a nominal fee for people without proof of public assistance, but even with that we could be preventing someone from getting their pet fixed for whom going to the vet would not be an option. If we want to minimize our impact as gentrifiers in our neighborhood, isn't this exactly the kind of thing we should be avoiding? On the other hand, it would save us $300, which is a significant amount of money...but maybe that makes it that much more unethical?

I don't know, I'm not sure what we'll decide. We've also discussed the possibility that 25 people might not even show up by seven on what is going to be a drizzly Saturday morning on a holiday weekend, but that feels like a rationalization.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Balk Like an Egyptian

So Mike Pelfrey balked thrice against the Giants last night? Weird. I am fuzzy on what even constitutes a balk...the first one is obvious, I can see the second one, but the third one is just a mystery to me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Andy Griffith Show Values

I love this classic non-apology apology: Kim Hendren is sorry he referred to Chuck Schumer as "that Jew"...because it "took away from what [Hendren] was trying to say"...which is how Chuck Jew-mer was trying to Jew up our Andy Griffith Show values with his Jewy wiles.

Perfect example about how when the right wing rhapsodizes about the good old days and 1950's values, it's not a case of forgetting about segregation, exclusive neighborhoods, and the reign of the closet. Rather, those things are exactly what they want to bring back.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Atrios links to this LA news story about California "ghost" towns of foreclosed houses. There are all these people still living in half-empty neighborhoods with legitimate complaints about trashed abandoned houses that get used for gang hangouts, drug sales, and so forth.

But then all of a sudden attention turns to a house that's being squatted by...a family! Who can't be evicted because...they pay their utility bills? Uh, so what's the problem again?

Oh, I see, they don't maintain their lawn and neighbors would prefer a "nice family." Maybe leaving the place empty would be a better option? Hilariously, one person even complains about the squatters' impact on property value, as if that's still a thing.

Nice to see a dying community unite around the poor bankers, who just want their justly deserved "fees," and against the evil homesteaders squatters who might actually have a shot at saving the neighborhood.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dollhouse / In the Middle of the Street

I watched the season (and, in all likelihood, series) finale of Dollhouse earlier this week. My initial reading stands, I think, though it now appears to me as though the primary allegorical (and the premise and characters are more complex than mere allegory warrants, so this isn't intended as a comprehensive reading in any sense) import of "the Dollhouse" is as a representation of patriarchy, and the enforcement of rigid gender roles in particular.

That is, the feminist critique of capitalism is present (for example, in the commentary on the entertainment industry, and TV in particular), but it's more focused on the specific problems posed by patriarchal gender roles. The following musings contain many spoilers for the entire season.

The first indication of this is the name of the Dollhouse itself: the term "dollhouse" is certainly evocative, and does reflect the status of the Actives as mindless playthings, but it doesn't exactly make sense as a description of what the Dollhouse organization does in the fictional world. The organization bills itself as fulfilling clients' fantasies, whatever they may be. In contrast, an actual toy dollhouse is generally not seen as this kind of blank slate for a child's imagination to fill in freely; rather, it's a highly gendered toy, used almost exclusively by girls to act out (and rehearse) traditional gender roles.

Put another way, a dollhouse's immediate purpose is to allow a child to act out fantasies, but only of a very limited sort, while its larger purpose (not necessarily what it was intended for, but what it actually functions to do in the real world) is to enforce societal gender norms. Likewise, each Dollhouse branch is in the immediate business of allowing clients to act out certain of their fantasies, while there have been many allusions throughout the series to some greater project that the whole sprawling entity is working on.

The Actives under this framework are those whose true personalities have been supplanted by whatever pre-programmed identities are forced upon them. This is directly analogous to people who quash their own true desires in order to take on externally mandated (and often conflicting) gender roles defined by the patriarchy. Some remnants of their true selves (Alpha's sadism, Echo's suspiciousness, Victor's crush on Sierra) might leak through, but by and large they are completely displaced by the personalities they adopt to satisfy the needs of those around them.

This dynamic is nominally voluntary: as DeWitt constantly reminds everyone, the Actives work for the Dollhouse under legal contract. But the narrative reveals that for many of them, their choice to join the Dollhouse was not much of a choice at all. Thus is one of the standard apologies for problematic gender normative behavior—people are free to do what they want, and if that means wearing miniskirts then so be it—explicated within the framework of Dollhouse.

It is appropriate then that while the Dollhouse employs both male and female Actives, the majority of them are women. This reflects the disproportionate negative impact of enforced gender norms on women while acknowledging that men suffer under patriarchy as well. (Perhaps also of interest here is how Alpha and Echo react differently when they come to be inhabited by all of their programmed personalities simultaneously: Alpha experiences this as a liberating rebirth into godhood and destroys his original self, while Echo has no interest in these false personae, desiring only to pay her dues in the Dollhouse to win back her real identity.)

Characters aside from the Actives demonstrate other ways of interacting with the system of patriarchal gender norms. The two major "good guys," Boyd Langton and Paul Ballard, disagree with the Dollhouse's purpose and methods, but neither offers much promise of being able to do anything to stop it. Langton tries his best to keep an eye out for Echo, but his complicity in the Dollhouse project limits his impact. While Ballard initially appears devoted to taking down the Dollhouse, he comes to adopt the mentality of a "white knight," occupied more with rescuing Caroline in particular than in undermining the larger operation (tellingly, it takes Mellie, herself trapped within the clutches of the Dollhouse, to recognize this self-delusion for what it is). It is no accident that these two sympathetic male characters also comport themselves according to the norms of typical masculinity, guided by self-righteousness and doing their talking largely with their fists.

Topher, in contrast, does not conform to traditional masculine norms, but his misanthropic egotism and contempt for the Actives mean that he helps uphold patriarchy nonetheless. He's an example of someone who would actually benefit from a world without patriarchy, but goes along with it because feeling superior to its victims is easier than challenging the status quo. An example of someone escaping the stringent rules of patriarchy is given in the character of Whiskey, whose mutilation liberates her from gender expectations (note she becomes a doctor) because she cannot be easily sexually objectified under patriarchal standards of beauty (this option for freedom is, again, no option at all; disfigurement should not be a prerequisite for membership in humanity).

The remaining two characters, Dominic and DeWitt, don't really seem to function at the same allegorical level as the Actives and the rest of the supporting cast. Dominic is abstracted to the point of being an out and out symbol: he's the government that recognizes the power of patriarchy as a potential means to some future end, and keeps an eye on its activities as a result. DeWitt doesn't seem to be much more than a somewhat hackneyed archetype, the ball-breaking ice queen. That's clearly a role fraught with all kinds of more or less interesting gender dynamics, but it doesn't seem to be much informed by the Dollhouse-as-patriarchy framework.

So that's my reading of the show's motivating conceit. If the series does continue then I would expect its themes to evolve with it, the way Buffy's "battling the demons of adolescence" premise gave way to more complex themes. But it would also be nice to see how the story that's been told so far would work out, as I would also expect it to be consistent with this allegorical framework.

Home Office

Set up to work on my back porch, with Prancis keeping me company

Working from home in my urban hellhole.

Monday, May 11, 2009

"Empathize right on your behind!"

Bam, Michael Steele nails it. You be da man! My new voter registration as a Republican will be in the mail this afternoon.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Current Object of Bike Lust

Saw one of these things this morning (at the farmers' market, natch). It looked like the couple it belonged to had two kids they'd brought in the cargo box.

Not sure where I'd park one, but 150 pounds is plenty for carrying a dog around...we'd looked at specs for some of the Danish-built ones that some companies used to import, and they maxed out at 100 pounds of cargo IIRC, which Prancis is not likely to exceed, but who knows.

So anyway that's tempting enough, but the Joe Bike prototype is seriously badass.

Friday, May 8, 2009


It's hard not to feel optimistic coming off the two wins in the mini series against Philly.

My ignorance of the sport of baseball means I'm not really aware of the psychological impact something like, say, pulling a pitcher out of the rotation, can have on the whole team, but it sure seems to have had a good effect so far. It's not so much the string of recent wins, but that they seem to be more like whole team affairs, rather than Johann carrying them or just getting lucky when an opposing pitcher blows it.

Looking forward to seeing how Jon Niese does tonight. I don't think I remember him from last season.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Caine Dootiny

Via Sadly, No!, wow, Michael Caine is a jackass. It's not like he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps in the midst of the Thatcherite capitalist paradise...he made his career in the 1960's, under the confiscatory tax structure decried by other working class lads made good.

Clearly, while some people are none too happy about their tax brackets once they've met with great success, the threat of high taxes was not enough to put them off their ambitions in the first place, so it's hard to take Iain Martin's scaremongering in the Telegraph column seriously. He seems to half recognize this, as he is very right to worry about "[a]ccess to the best schools...increasingly limited to the affluent." It's just his proposed remedy—slash taxes for the ultra wealthy—that's nonsense.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good Take on Supreme Court Vacancy

I like Ezra Klein's framing of the issue: the centrality of women's (and gay and racial minority) issues to what the SCOTUS does is exactly why non-(straight white male) candidates are so important.

And it is actually seriously incredible to me that an opinion columnist in a national paper can do a piece that boils down to "race and gender don't matter anymore so Obama should appoint a white man" and not get called out by an editor for the basic error in reasoning.

Monday, May 4, 2009

She's a Superfund (She's Superfundy)

I'm glad it sounds like the Gowanus Superfund status is going to go through. The arguments against it all basically amounted to "it's going to be really hard to get people to live in housing built on a Superfund site," which, yeah. Is that supposed to persuade anyone?