The Culture Warriors’ Inner Battle

This whole thing with Mark Foley is insane. Not only was he the head of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children’s Caucus, but he sponsored more than one bill on child abuse. A 50 year old man was propositioning a page… it looks like more than one. Was it an intern? No. Was it someone of legal age? No. The worst part? The GOP leadership in the House knew about it for ten months and did basically nothing. The didn’t dig deep enough to find out what was going on so they could turn a blind eye and pretend that nothing happened.
This seems to fit a pattern. Culture warrior rails against some big evil in the world, advocating draconian punishment for any criminal dastardly enough to perpetrate such a crime, only to be a secret practioner. There are plenty of examples:
* Bill Bennett rails against gambling and all other forms of moral weakness only to turn out to be a huge gambler himself.
* Rush Limbaugh advocates insane jail time for non-violent drug offenders only to turn out to be a huge illegal oxycontin user.
* Henry Hyde, who helped lead the impeachment of President Clinton over what boils down to marital infidelity, turned out to have committed the same sin himself… no one threatened to impeach him.
* Rick Santorum goes on a crusade for tort reform, yet his wife takes a huge settlement in a civil trial.
The rules only seem to apply to everyone else in the culture wars. They fight against what they themselves are most guilty about. Well, you know what? Not only is it hypocritical in the extreme, it’s just psychotic. Get counseling, talk to your clergy, pray, but keep your fetishes out of my laws, and your broken government out of my bedroom, e-mail and phone calls. Get your own life in order before you go preaching to me, you Pharisees.

Tips for Young Developers

This has been a crazy week. I’m tech leading a huge project with a crazy hard deadline, and to be perfectly honest, most of the stuff I’ve tech lead, while large projects, have had fairly small teams and dealt with systems I knew inside and out (it was all in the AOL Search days). This is a pretty large team, and we have to deal with systems I’ve never even heard of before. What does all this mean? It means that I haven’t worked less than a 12 hour day this week, and one day, I actually worked a 20 hour day.
In the midst of the 20 hour day, I realized that we have a bunch of new folks on the team, and I came up with a list of some of the hard non-technical lessons it took failing a couple (OK, several) times to learn. These are painful lessons, and I figured I would do my best to save them the trouble. The whole e-mail got a little maudlin at the end (I think I sent it in hour 18 of the 20 hour marathon), but I figured the list might be worth sharing with the world. Enjoy. I’d love to hear your tips for surviving in development (web or otherwise) too, because I know this isn’t all of them.
# If the process is slowing you down and isn’t helping you, throw it out. (one small condition here… under normal circumstances, reasonable process is a good thing. under a crunch, process should be curtailed where possible)
# If you’re stuck, scream until someone comes to help. And if that person can’t help you, scream until you get the help you need.
# If you get stuck, start screaming early. We don’t have time to spin our wheels. It’s most likely not your fault that you’re stuck. Asking questions earlier is better than asking questions after it’s already too late. Also, ask questions until it makes sense. If you don’t get it, it’s probably because the person explaining is doing something wrong. Make them explain it till they get it right.
# If you don’t know, don’t guess. Disinformation is poison, and confusion leads to bad decisions. There’s nothing wrong with telling someone that you’ll get back to them when you know the answer.
# If you commit to a date, don’t miss it. If you think you might miss it, tell everyone and tell them as soon as you think you’ll miss the date.
# Over-communicate. I’d rather get more mail and know what’s going on with everything than have no idea and have to track people down. Scrum is a good start… oh yeah… think about what you’re going to say at scrum before you get there. Write it down and bring it with you, and then take notes if you think of something else.
# Get out of your chair and go talk to people, or pick up the phone. E-mail and IM are great, but you can resolve stuff face to face faster, even if you’re shy.
I know, you’d think that this stuff is pretty self-evident – but it’s not. Geeks are proud. We don’t like admitting we don’t know the answers, and most of us don’t like asking for help. If you have a geek in your life, you know this. It’s something we have to get over. It takes time – be patient with us.
Got more? What else belongs on the list?

Supernatural

The Supernatural season premiere was awesome! Did you hear me squeeing last night? The best premiere of the year, and probably even the best of the past few years. I watched the season one finale right before the premiere, so the continuity, action, and emotional confrontations were muchly appreciated and enjoyed. I practically shouted “Hell yea!” a couple of times.
I must admit that I was a fool. I mean, the show wouldn’t. The show couldn’t. OMG, the show totally did. Noooooo! Man, Jeffrey Dean Morgan can’t catch a break! What is that, three times in the past three years? I am still in shock and denial. This is Supernatural, afterall.
Ted Nugent rocked, the guest stars were great, and Dean continued to deliver the humor. While part of the outcome was predictible, how they got there was a surprise. The fall-out from the finale was crafted much better than I was expecting, allowing Jensen, Jared, and Jeffrey to shine. So, two big enthusiastic thumbs up from me. Is it next Thursday yet?
Who else watched it?
ETA- A friend watched the show for the first time lastnight and didn’t quite see the awesomeness that I did. What is so great about this premiere is that it picked up directly from the finale. Without seeing the first season, this episode won’t seem as interesting. But next week the boys will start on a new adventure, so continue to watch, you hear?
Veronica Mars chose not to pick up from its finale, and instead is like a new show, trying to attract new viewers, but without the heavy exposition of a pilot. Different tactics for different shows. Supernatural’s choice was way more emotionally satisfying.

Rediscovering the Music Video

It’s been a long time since I saw a video on American MTV. I think the last time I saw one on TV at all was on MTV Europe while in France at the W3C Plenary (I saw some great ones on MTV India… wow… twisted, but in a different way than German techno videos… avert your eyes – they can scar your retinas). But, recently, I downloaded the Democracy Player and discovered Telemusicvision. It’s just music videos you can download and watch through the player… I know, crazy. There’s one in particular that I’ve been watching over and over. Bright Eyes’ The Bottom of Everything is a haunting song about a plane crash, and the video gives it this happy sureal edge that’s completely engrossing.
The only problem I have with videos is that they taint songs forever. A song that I may have some deep emotional connection can be totally ruined by the video. It’s a risk, but hey, I get to watch music video again. Hooray, interweb! And the best part? They’re all independent artists.
OK, one last thing before I toddle off the bed. I’ve been thinking about this since coming back from Edinburgh with my UK Big Brother addiction. Don’t you think that DirecTV or someone gave us the best TV from all over the world? I had high hopes for BBC America, but the only current thing they show is BBC News. I want the best of British, Australian, New Zealand, and if they can do subtitles quick enough, the best of everyone else’s TV too. DirecTV has room for way more channels, and they already provide scores of Spanish, French, Chinese and Indian channels as unadvertised add-ons, why not a premium package of the best of the rest of the English-speaking world? I can understand licensing issues with networks like Channel4 replaying US shows, but there are ways around that (and about time, I would think). Right now, the only way to get really good reality TV (well, if insanely entertaining crazy people is “really good” – I think it is) is to download it “illegally” with bittorrent. If someone gave me another way to do it that was legal and easier, I’d totally do it. I’d pay as much as I do for HBO to get a package of UK and Australian networks, even if they blacked out replays of US shows. Come on DirecTV, gimme what I want!

Premiere Week

Next column over, Kevin is writing about war and death and torture. And I am writing about tv. Heh.
I am saving my indepth post about Veronica Mars until it has aired, but know that I loved it and thought Kristen Bell looked hot and was cute and sassy as ever! I also thought it did a great job welcoming new viewers without weighty exposition (um, except for Cormac, but more on that later). This is definitely ‘do or die’ time for the show, so keep your fingers crossed. (You can watch it Tuesdays at 9pm EST on the CW). On to other premieres-
Supernatural is back! Yippee! Catch the season premiere on Thursday at 9pm EST on the CW. Oooo, I heard Linda Blair is going to be guest starring sometime this season. How cool is that? Plus there are one or two recurring characters I am excited to see. (Denny and Meg live! On Supernatural anyway, I hope. Yay!) For those of you not smooth enough to have already seen the first season, here is a 1 minute review or just watch it here:
Lastnight was the first Gilmore Girls episode sans Amy Sherman-Palladino. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The episode had gotten mixed reviews, some saying it was a pale imitation of ASP’s classic style and others saying that the show was finally back on track after an abysmal last season. After watching it, I agree with both points of view for different parts of the show. Sookie’s whisking rant was spot-on, a perfect example of why I love (loved?) this show. Lorelia’s car analogy was a good attempt, but wasn’t quite up to GG greatness. Rumors have been floating around that ASP unofficially checked out of the show a long time ago and if I hadn’t known of her departure, I wouldn’t have noticed anything amiss while watching the season premiere. Last season really sucked, with its out-of-character and ridicules plotlines. After experiencing that though, this new guy seems heaven-sent. What are your thoughts?
I have seen two episodes of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and while it is entertaining, it is not the savior of television it has been hyped as. Meh, I can’t even find the enuthusiasm to write a whole lot about the show except to say that Bradley Whitford and Matthew Perry are great; I dislike Harriet, which isn’t to say the actress is doing a bad job; and the cold open should have been done off-screen.
I tried Vanished, Heroes, and Six Degrees but none of them could hold my interest. What shows have you tried? What shows stuck to you?

The Plague Continues

I took the boys to the doctor today because they just weren’t getting over their colds and Brian added vomiting to his symptoms. Max has pneumonia and Brian still has a fever and was wheezing. We sat through a breathing treatment for Brian in the office, with him fighting me constantly for the 10 minutes it took. While we were at Wegman’s waiting for the prescriptions, Brian threw up again. The pediatrician told me more than once that I sounded really bad and needed to see my doctor too. Waaaaaaaa. I blame Kevin and feel the need to be compensated with chocolate, something sparkly, or something that will make me laugh. Even though it really isn’t Kevin’s fault.

Just A Thought

Just a thought for a Wednesday morning. For all the Christians out there who support President Bush’s secret torture “program”, think about this: Jesus Christ was a victim of torture and was considered a “terrorist” by the government of his time. Our country has tortured, and knowingly sent to be tortured, at least dozens and possibly hundreds of innocent people. This is not a theoretical question.
Can you be a Christian and support torture? You can’t say, “I only support the torture of guilty people,” because we’ve already tortured innocents. We’ve already proven that the program is flawed: innocent people are being detained indefinitely and tortured by American citizens acting on behalf of our government with the approval of the President. It’s a binary thing. Either you support torture or you don’t.
What would Jesus do?

VM conference

Someone cooler than me posted a recap of the Veronica Mars conference I participated in. Brownie points and bragging rights for the first person to identify my question!
Here is a quote from Rob: The first episode is Veronica Mars for beginners. The case is pretty straight ahead and used to largely introduce us to the new characters. I’ve tried to really front load the episodes with fun breezy banter, that would play nicely with the Gilmore Girls audience, sort of inviting them into the show. It starts feeling more like our show in the final five minutes. The second episode which ranks with some of our best ever, is Veronica Mars at its best.
See, he made it easy for you guys to catch up with Veronica Mars. And the episode does a great job of introducing characters to the new audience without long expositions. Thumbs up for Rob on that aspect.

My Ode to Rob Thomas

I love Rob Thomas. Not the guy from Matchbox Twenty. I am talking about the creator of Veronica Mars. He is funny, down-to-earth, and so frakkin’ accessible to his fans, that I want to smoosh him.
Ok, this was a small ode, but very heartfelt.
Remember when I complained about being off of the cool kids’ list? Well, I made it on the list, and got to participate in a telephone conference call with Rob himself. YAY! That makes me deliriously happy.
PS, I have already seen the season premiere. WHEEE. More info tomorrow. Kisses!