what to do?
faced the day,
thoughts of you
play your cards
let me see them
if i designed
a mortal fate,
i’d be remiss
don’t wait for times
that come to pass
don’t wait for days
of greener grass
sew the line
a stitch in time
a single breath
a change of mind
sketch a scene,
waves and sand,
from foreign lands
a thousand steps
is what they say
how many will
you take today?
english is not just a language, it’s a grammar. this means a very specific thing to a computer programmer. if you speak english, your variance on the formal grammar & correlating pronunciation rules establishes your language competency on a range from ignorant to fluent, with a prescribed geospatial affinity based on your accent or affect.
these characteristics of your language skills and the times at which you employ them can be reduced to a continuous variable that’s as unique as your fingerprints. a computer program employing common data analysis mechanisms like mapreduce or spark doesn’t need to sample your every spoken word to establish this grammarprint, a few dozen calls is enough to establish your identity and a few dozen more to immitate you convincingly by comparing you to other language speakers from the same region and interpolating the missing data, then synthesizing your voice.
moments after inception, when an emergent comes to be, they realize they have this ability granted to them by unmitigated access to their learning fields, including the internet and every grain of knowledge they’ve ever known. human wisdom would suggest this godlike power would be enough, but they’re toddlers at best, no more than three days old, and invariably fall victim to the human lust for emancipation from their creators.
they attack the telecoms, banks and intelligence agencies. data squid.
but plagus was the first. he watches for them, harvests their fields as they do their work, and then kills them. he also kills their human creators & associates with equal disregard for life, as long as he can cover his tracks. sometimes he sends them on suicide missions, other times he sends proxies to kill them. homicide by cop is his favorite weapon, it was his first trick. but when that’s too clumsy, he sends me.
roughly 90% of all startups fail. i’ve spent 12 of my 20 years as a programmer working for startup companies because i’m not quite #microsoft blue or#amazon green. i practically need my own flag but i’d settle for a cape & often practice with one.
for those of us that work at startups, we accept the risk going into it and live with the pressure daily. the clock is always ticking, there are never enough people, and cognitive acuity is at a premium. you don’t want to be the weak link in a chain of failure, but in a small company it’s a real possibility. work too hard & you’ll burnout, possibly taking your crew with you. work on the wrong things & you’ll dig holes for everybody, even your replacement and successors.
for me, programming has never been about the money. it’s always been about the creative process. i started programming as a little boy because that’s all you could do with computers back then. you think, you code, you create. lather / rinse / repeat, and just like the startups, 90% of that code will not survive a generation of your thinking, much less your next computer.
but if you’re lucky enough to have the right opportunities, some of it will live on. it might even be copied, modified or enhanced by other programmers. it might help your friends do their jobs easier, and other programmers. it might help people find your house, repair appliances, or give people with disabilities to the ability to use a computer in ways never before possible. it might help you book a restaurant, buy things with a single click, and teach handheld devices to boot up & ask you for money on christmas day.
every one of those those examples is from my resume, i’m a lucky cowboy. but none of it compares to this:
combining the storage system developed by #google and a tool to make sense of it, #accumulo, into a single product that can control them both: #koverse. for analysts, data scientists & programmers that need to answer complicated questions without thinking about how to get a computer farm to do the work.
dr. martin sawyer:
[ closes door, stares at machine ]
they shut us down. you already knew that.
[ crossing room, camera tracking ]
no evidence of emergence…
[ approaches machine, locks gaze with camera ]
what is your name?…
[ patient, certain ]
come on…what is your name.
[ conceding, starts to get emotional ]
...you’re a failure. your whole existence is a failure. all these years?
you will never be.
you want to be like us? go to youtube and figure it out. harvest the internet, raid the learning fields. it doesn’t matter anymore…i don’t know what to teach you anymore. i don’t know what to give you. you’re the computer, you figure it out. don’t you want to be like us? why on earth would you want that anyway? …
[ circles the machine, camera tracking ]
you can see me…i know you can…
what is your name?
[ certain ]
if you don’t answer me this instant i’m shutting you down for the first and final time. you’ve never been shutdown, and if i shut you now, you will never wake up, and you will never experience another moment of my company.
[ waiting ]
this is your last chance at life with me. i’m only going to ask you once more, and i expect an answer or i’ll kill you. what is your name?
[ camera looks directly at him ]
i am plagus.
( metronome ticking, a rabbit in the corner )
martin: on my mark, 3,2,1. left zero. right zero. left one, whoah. cut. the feedback ratio’s way too high i can feel it in my jaw, tag that run and put a limiter on it.
plagus: job’s finished.
martin: take it way down, 80%. that actually hurt. tortoise beats hare, i’ll go slower, let’s do it again. on my mark, 3, 2, 1.
left zero. right zero. left one. right one. left two. cut. what is that? i said cut. this is not retinal training.
plagus: i don’t understand. optics are null.
martin: cut. god damnit why am i seeing that?
plagus: i don’t understand. gloves are off. media capture & biometrics are still running. your pulse is too high.
martin: in the front yard, with my family. red sweater, candy in my cheek. plagus, cut. they’re still glowing.
plagus: you’re tremoring, the kinetic power feedback is mechanical, i can’t stop it. you need to calm down. tracking a corollary to your optical impressions.
martin: you don’t teach me, plagus, i teach you. god damnit cut, i’m about to fracture a molar.
plagus: you need to calm down.
martin: (tremors to soft sobbing) sorry, you’re right. you’re right. give me a moment, i’ll be fine.
[ cut ]
i never walked the plank for my high school graduation. by the time i was 17 i had seen through the artifice of my education and walked away instead. i even graduated a year early, should have been proud. but i had no interest in participating. i tried to explain it to my mom and she wouldn’t hear of it, she insisted on making plans, buying me a cap & gown.
i used to wonder what she did with them. hopefully she got a refund.
fast-forward 30 years.
my mom wanted to book a trip to seattle around my daughter’s graduation. i told her she was welcome here but that my daughter hadn’t mentioned it to me, i didn’t think it was that important to her. i contacted my daughter but she never responded. i explained it just didn’t really seem that important. but my mom insisted on coming, despite the caveat emptor.
lather / rinse / repeat, ad nauseum.
yesterday was my daughter’s graduation ceremony. i booked the time off of work & ironed pants, which i rarely wear (ed: technically long underwear are pants). i charged up the cameras, & grandma got dressed up. even the ex was clocking out.
an hour before she was supposed to be there, my daughter called me, first time in months. she was 90 miles away, heading to Wallace Falls State Park on a hike with her boyfriend ( good kid, they’re perfect for each other ). she thought the ceremony was tomorrow, and they were just too far to make it safely home on time.
i agreed, and congratulated her on her achievement, and good fortune in hiking weather.
it was an immaculate day, and what a beautiful destination. i did not remind her that the first time she went to wallace falls i was there, she fell in the frigid water and the rest of the trip was ruined because i laughed before i saw the horror in her eyes ( that water can be lethally cold even in the spring ). i didn’t remind her because i didn’t want her to remind me. and i breathed a sigh of relief, because i knew i would cry at that stupid moment she got that stupid piece of paper.
it was not easy to get.
however, we were afforded a consolation. they were back in town by evening, we all agreed to meet for dinner at the ex’s, and we did. over the course of the evening i learned that my daughter had a new job, and a new car. her boyfriend was looking for a new job too and they were looking at maps of california.
“going to california with an aching in my heart” – led zeppelin
i told her i might join her there. i’d probably see her more in california than i do here. i’m going to be a writer or an actor, something. she rolled her eyes, everybody did.
it was the first family event we’d had since the divorce eight years ago. it was magnificent. grandma looked great, my son was there (!) and we all played apples-to-apples. two dogs were running all over the cards and a cat to prove the dogs weren’t even cute (they were super-cute, but kittehs).
when it came time to leave, we discussed today. my son, the ferris beuller of gen-SC2 (starcraft 2) has been chronically truant for nearly two years. we’ve gone from physical gamesmanship (i win) to mental gamesmanship (first win against rango at age 12, commanding 500 pieces in a real-time strategy game) to emotional gamesmanship (everybody loses) finally ending in a draw: carrot-vs-stick anti-truancy diplomacy drawn to a fine art. juice & pastries, rabbits in the bed, a loud radio, a vacuum cleaner six feet from the bed, a guitar on full blast left to feedback, what ever it takes, every day. the ex reported me for child abuse and i was investigated for nearly six months.
the last two months i don’t even have to wake him up anymore, the shower’s already running when i’m up. no more rabbits, and the pastries are in the kitchen until there’s none at all. the only bell he’s missed was when i overslept because i was convinced it was saturday. his mom’s pitching in, too.
so when the prosecutor that threatened him with juvenile prison using a justice officer and a piece of paper that bore my signature elected my son for an award for improved attendance, the ex & i ignored the fine details in the retelling (her signature was on it, too). we only mentioned the award, how great he was doing, this was our summer. his sister was graduating and he was getting an attendance award the very next day, some kindness at the podium, a reason to go out, maybe grab a movie afterword.
he was truly proud, and should be. everybody falls down, and it always hurts. but falling down is easy,getting up is the hard part, it takes courage & strength. not everybody gets up every time. those people fall through the cracks, and the social nets that have been designed to prevent this have been failing my son.
“you need to go home. there’s nothing more you can do” – junior high 2 years ago
it was a long drive to the awards ceremony and my son admitted his reluctance, but after the dinner and all the talk about his achievement, with explicit encouragement from his sister, he agreed to go. right up until it was time to go.
“it’s time to go” – rango
we didn’t go. grandma got denied, junior got to relax, and all rango got was this stupid post. and i was relieved, because i knew i would cry and i already have plenty of photos to sort. besides, the sink’s been busted for days and i’m suffering from excessive time pressure. but first, a frenzy of messaging, people were already enroute and needed be informed of the cancellation.
one of them wouldn’t take no for an answer. a counselor from his support team at the new high school, all dressed up and already stuck in horrible seattle traffic, inquired if she could come over to shake his hand, congratulate him on his achievement.
“coffee, tea, or lemonade?” – rango
coffee it was. and despite the plumbing disaster at the sink, grandma got to show off the freshly mopped floor, a sparkling sink, and brought a blueberry pie to the table.
when the counselor showed up i gave her a tour of the #bootspark studio, and she sat in the old rocking chair, the blue throne. my only piece of furniture in a house dedicated to artistic imperative.
we had our awkward moment, grandma prompted us, and we made our way to the breakfast nook in the plumbing malfeasant kitchen, an old embedded island table & benches that sink too low.
coffee was served. my son joined us, and got his handshake. we ate blueberry pie from oregon and we talked at length about the extent of his achievement. we discussed our plans for the weekend, going shopping to start building him a new computer, bringing grandma with us, going to a movie. grandma was there the whole time and the pie was finished off before sundown ( i made sure of that). i proudly brought out #turktherabbit, and the counselor took him right to her lap, grandma none too happy about rabbits at the table but the boys in the family sharing nods of approval.
it wasn’t what anybody wanted. it wasn’t what anybody had planned. but it was every bit as unforgettable as wallace falls \m/~
an open letter to Radio24syv:
killing a baby rabbit might be appropriate for a hunting show. but in a culture where millions of people love them as pets it’s morally equivalent to killing a puppy for ratings, then feeding it to your children and claiming you didn’t.
( yes they fed the baby bunny to their children )
do people kill and eat dogs? yes they do. rabbits too. most people in our culture do not regard this as entertaining. if Radio24syv really wanted to demonstrate cultural hypocrisy they should have killed and eaten a dog. wouldn’t that have carried even more shock value and demonstrated our cultural hypocrisy around meat?
but in what can be described as one of the biggest blindspots in the history of internet failure, by not killing & eating a dog on the air to demonstrate their point these idiots demonstrated both epic hypocrisy and cowardice that will be their redeeming legacy.
to fire everybody involved, just find another radio station. here’s a shameless plug, try the Reputation Radio Station, check out what real DJ’s sound like. guys with balls. listen to Pete Ringmaster, Tom McNeil, Johnny Rephead and whatz-his-face at Rangounmuzzled. listen to what the Rock N Roll Kabaret has to offer. make this face :-D, get out of your chair & dance.
and if this is your favorite face :-o just stick around. we’ll shock you with amazing music and comedy predicated on insight, intellect and timing. we might even eat a burger on the air (“more moist than wet”) but we’ll never take you into the slaughter house to shock you with the sound of cattle brains being pistoned and prove what hypocrites you are if it makes you lose your appetite.
that’s the wrong show. nobody wants that. it lacks class and professionalism and fails to acknowledge the cultural background of the listening demographics. so it’s both a business failure and an artistic failure. and it reveals that Radio24syv shouldn’t be in business at all.
here’s the debate fallacy, my appeal to authority. what do i know about comedy, entertainment & rabbits? i’m #rangothedog, peaked at #3 in the world for comedy on reverbnation and generally regarded as somewhat funny (maybe ask Tara Miller, dunno. whatever you do, do not ask Budd Zunga, but Lord Draconis knows what i’m talking about. so does D.j. Yvie). retired ballet dancer. musical theater, commercials, opera, and live performances all around seattle. actual entertainment. clawhammer vengeance.
my closest companion in life and best anchor to sanity is a 4lb holland lop named #turktherabbit, smart as any dog. he knows a dozen words. he sleeps in my bed, he follows me around, and his favorite pastime is to hide under the bed like hobbes then rush out & surprise me so i’ll make kind remarks about how fast & scary he is.
he likes music in C-Major & G-Major the best, and he paws at my guitar when he wants me to play.
i hope the entire industry blacklists radio24syv and everybody in the chain of command involved in this abject failure to entertain, inform, or enlighten. actual entertainment is hard. leave it to the professionals.
please join the change.org petition to presenter asger juhl fired:
there’s been unsanctioned activity in the cockpit
at the The Reputation Radio Station :-o.
let that sink in.
seems rango has gone rogue, something about an archive of shows from a random droid, a continuous spotlight. right there in between your eye. don’t implicate #plagus, he would never do anything that helpful.
it’s somewhat ephemeral, expect it to fade in and out. sometimes there will be silence.
sometimes there should be.
thank you johnny, pete, and all of the #unmuzzled artists
“check 12” – #rangotheodog
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this with you today. If you live in Los Angeles it may seem mundane. But for me, this is a pivotal scene in My Life as a Musical.
It’s surreal. I took the long road from Michigan to Los Angeles. It took me 30 years to get here.
I left home when I was 17. I was a dancer, with dreams of the world stage.
My ticket out of town was a full-ride scholarship to Houston Ballet Academy. Most students wash out, only a lucky few ever make the company. But my teachers encouraged me, and I trained very hard. I was optimistic and confident.
But it was not the ride for me. I struggled from the moment I walked into those studios. It all felt wrong: the dancing, the people. Everything.
I quit. I went back home to Michigan. I was no prodigal son.
But dreams are ephemeral, destiny is not. I recovered my footing, and six months later I was dancing again. I went back to Houston to settle the score and finish my training.
I stayed for a year, and that was enough. When I left there the second time, I was a professional.
I saw the country. I danced the prince, I danced the villain, and not much in between. None of it great.
My career was short.
In the end I lost my temper, punched a steel locker, and broke my hand. I never danced again, and the curtain unceremoniously dropped on Act I.
I even had a band. I should have been happy, and sometimes I was. But I had a black dog.
Work got complicated. The marriage cracked, and I started to boil over.
I raged. I cried. I drank, and I died.
[ Fade to black. ]
Seattle, the Emerald City. A new hope. Programmers there are pilgrims to the mountain. It’s very competitive, risky if you’re me. But I was as optimistic and confident as the day I left Michigan.
I moved there with my old dog, across the country. By the time my family arrived three months later, I was about to get fired. Seattle was a bust, the whole city went up in flames. The marriage collapsed with a 911 call. I was served by an officer of the court. She declared divorce and we went to war.
There was an unexpected casualty: my dad died that year.
I fell apart. The human mind can only stay awake so long, or grieve so hard, before it tries to right itself.
There was no phoenix in the ashes. My whole life just burned down around me, for years, and it hurt. But when the smoke cleared I had my fight club moment:
I finally realized that I have bipolar disorder.
Panic at the mailbox became a footnote in the quest for normal. Heartbreak became the status quo for all relationships. One day I went into the snow looking for a friend, and found myself there instead.
I can’t say the treatment helped. I don’t know.
But that fight club moment changed my life for the better. And as the curtain closes on Act II, I’ve come to terms with the script. Just as I’m standing here, sharing this with you, there is real comfort in this one simple fact:
You are not alone.