Date with a brogrammer

Yesterday a coworker who I generally like had over the founder of a local
Python meetup group to have lunch with us. I tried to keep an open mind about
this guy, who I will refer to as Business Logic, but there were a few things
he said that gave me pause. At the time I held my tongue, for fear of
embarrassing my coworker. But I kind of regret that now--I just hope my
coworker, who I think seems like a good guy, was silently embarrassed by this
guy anyways.

The main thing that got under my skin was when we were discussing ideas to
bring more people in to a little programming contest. Business Logic's
grand idea, which I know was just a joke--but one that he very pointedly made
after the one woman in our lunch group left the table--was to offer a "date
with a supermodel" as the prize for the contest. I was really about to lose
my shit but I just gritted my teeth and pretended not to hear anything. This
guy was just such a dorky shit--think Revenge of the Nerds, but worse.

I was going to rant on and on about what a stupid and exclusionary and
pathetic idea that is, but I would just be preaching to the choir here I
think. Maybe I will still do that later, but I need to get some work done.
If anyone is curious I can offer further details on what hanging out with
this dudebro was like :/

But if that's the kind of guy who founded this meetup, I don't think
I will be participating in it. Or will I? Maybe I should take it over and
make it into not such a white sausagefest. Or perhaps start my own that
actually gives a shit about diversity and not turning sensible people the fuck

Impromptu Social Justice—How one person really can make a small difference

Whew! Just recovering from an unexpectedly exhausting and emotional afternoon of counter-protesting some pretty egregious anti-abortionists associated with and probably other such hate groups.

I work on the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, where starting today and through the weekend the annual spring fair is being held. It's a time when a larger than normal percentage of the student body is on campus all at once, not to mention their relatives and friends, and other members of the community. So what better time for anti-abortionists to ruin a beautiful day of music, games, food vendors, and beer (and it really was perfect weather) with huge signs with pictures of aborted fetuses and of the Nazi death camps to which these sociopaths so callously compare women's rights to bodily autonomy?

For the TL;DR version: I made some pro-abortion rights signs, stood there with them, and helped attract several more students to do the same, eventually overwhelming the anti-choicers.

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So much spam...

I finally went ahead and completely disabled anonymous comments on my LJ.

For a while I had set them to screened by default, but really the only anon comments I get anymore are spam.

The only reason I had them enabled in the first place is that there was a time when some family members actually read my LJ and wanted to comment on it without making an account. But I don't think any of them ever really follow it anymore. Most of my posts are friends-only by default anyways. So I don't know why I left anon comments enabled for old public posts. Seems absurd now that I think of it...

DIY plumbing win!

Just completed my biggest ever plumbing project, in that it's the first time I ever had to cut into the main water supply, which was a little nerve-wracking.

The goal was to add an outdoor faucet for the back yard. I've been complaining since we first moved into this has that while it for some reason has a faucet in the front of the house, it didn't have one in the back where it would be more useful. I guess the front faucet is somewhat useful for car washing. In fact, the only person who ever uses it is the old toothless guy with the horrible stutter who washes everyone's car on the street.

For the most part it was a pretty simple task. I found some old copper pipes that were sticking out the back of the house but wasn't connected to anything. They looked like they might have been for an old AC unit. So I was able to just pull them out and was left with a perfectly good hole to work with not too far from the main supply.

One small added complication was that the hole came out under the deck, which is rather inconvenient. So I also had to add some pipes from the faucet to the end of the deck, and cap it off with a secondary faucet.

Everything pretty much worked out except for three big mistakes, which were at least learning experiences. The first one was that I didn't realize all the pipes in the house were CPVC. CPVC is a special kind of PVC that's insulated for carrying hot water. Its diameter is just slightly smaller than normal PVC of the same inner diameter. This prevents you from accidentally mismatching them, which makes sense.

It turns out my house uses CPVC for cold water as well. But I didn't notice this until I had already shut off the main supply and cut out a section of the pipe. The only way to easily tell the difference between CPVC and normal PVC is that it has a light beige color. But in the dimness of my basement it was almost impossible to tell that the pipe was actually beige, and not just a bit dusty. So with the water still shut off I had to run back to home despot to get a CPVC to PVC adapter.

The second mistake was that even though I had shut off the main supply and let the excess drain from the kitchen sink, I still got a good spray in the face when I first cut into the pipe. Maybe this would be obvious to anyone else, but it wasn't to me: I also had to shut off the supply to the hot water heater--its reservoir was supplying a small but not inconsequential amount of pressure to the system.

Third: I just plain forgot to cement one of the joints before I turned the water back on. I had put it on for a test fitting and somehow just never remembered to do that one properly. Amazingly, it still held for a few minutes. But eventually there was a violent pop and water spraying everywhere. The best thing about that was that the cat was right under it when it happened =D Hopefully it scared him enough to go anywhere near the basement again. Fortunately this happened right near the sump pit, so I was able to mop all the spilled water into it. It didn't cause any damage. I was quickly able to get the water shut off again, get everything dried off, and redo the joint properly.

The only problem I have so far is a slight dripping leak between the outside faucet and the secondary faucet. I have the supply to the faucet shut off for now, so I can fix it later. Other than that, I'll just be living with a slight paranoia that one of the joints will burst again at any moment. They do seem pretty solid though, and I did everything by the book. So it should be OK. Now I will be able to water my garden without having to run in to fill my watering can several times.

Beware crème brûlée

Given the opportunity it will try to kill you. And I don't mean slowly, by clogging your arteries either.

At dinner tonight it tried to kill me. It was so fantastically delicious I practically inhaled it. But I did not sufficiently break up the layer of caramelized suger--which was like a sheet of glass--before swallowing. Within seconds, a sizable chunk of glass, er, sugar, lodged itself in my throat.

I tried clenching my throat a few times, figuring it wouldn't be too hard to break up. But that just made it worse--it was so painful I almost cried. I quickly got up and made my way to the kitchen, where Céline's dad was fixing coffee. I whispered to him that there was sugar lodged in my throat and that I immediately required hot water to try to dissolve it. Despite the absurdity of the situation he understood and poured me some hot water. I drank about six glasses, which eventually did the trick.

It still hurts a bit, but I'm sure it's fine. Apparently I was very discreet about the whole incident, as Céline did even know this happened until I told her just now, even though it happened right in front of her. So I guess that's just how awesome and stoic I am. Though I think if it had hurt me any worse I should be a Darwin Award nominee at least.

Some incredible evolution stupidity

From today's hatemailapalooza on Daily Kos:

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In most cases I'd just ignore this kind of stupidity. After all a shocking number of Americans reject the fact of evolution (I have lots of issues with the "believe" wording in that poll, but that doesn't detract from the overall point). But this guy is just hilarious for all his posturing about how much he's studied BIOLOFGY and his grade school understanding of combinatorics and statistics. Ugh...if there's an all loving deity in this universe, this guy is a poe.


(no subject)

Dear Bank of America,

I find it ironic that, in the process of calling me (unsolicited) to sell me your identity security services, you would ask me various personal questions, despite the fact that I did not call you and I have no way of confirming your identity. Way to go.

Nevermind the fact that I've already blocked more than one of your numbers from calling me, and you keep trying anyway.

No love,

I can't believe I'm actually saying this but...

...I think people should lay off Sarah Palin a bit. That's not to say that she doesn't have responsibility for promoting eliminationist rhetoric to a large audience. And there is of course the now infamous crosshairs map, which I was angry about when it first came out. It's just that while this was a right wing politically motivated killing, there's no evidence (yet) that the shooter(s) took any cues from Palin. And while Palin has used eliminationist rhetoric, she is far from the first or the most egregious offender.

Take, for example, her own challenger for her congressional seat: He posted frequently holding M16s and other automatic rifles. Granted, he was a combat veteran, but most of these photos were not in that context. He was still a gun nut and a violence lover, no doubt. He held campaign events at shooting ranges--target practice. I can't recall if this was one of his events in particular, but I do remember reports of a political rally where attendees were shooting targets of their opponent's face.

And then there's Sharron Angle of Arizona's neighbor Nevada who coined the famous phrase "Second Amendment remedies" to our political problems. And there are many far worse examples, predating even the election of Barack Obama (though they've increased since then).

My point is not that Sarah Palin doesn't have some culpability here. Just that I see no reason to single her out, other than her being a high-profile "target" herself. And I have to disagree with those calling for her "career" to be over. First of all, what "career"? Second of all, I still want her to run for President and win the Republican nomination. I don't think that's likely to happen either way, but god wouldn't it be hilarious?

Open Source Games

Does anyone know of any good open source games that need or want some help?

I'm increasingly interested in getting into game programming. Since I'm in Maryland there are several good game studios around, and I want to be able to take advantage of that--especially now that I know a couple people who work at them (though they're artists, not coders).

I do have some graphics programming experience, but not particularly for games. Rather, back in high school I worked my way through the Graphics Programming Black Book. It's a great book and very educational, but pretty outdated now. And I haven't touched game dev since then.

I do realize that many studios need programmers for other stuff too such as backend server programming and writing tools. And I can certainly do that. But I still suspect I'd have a much better chance of getting hired if I had some game experience to show off too.

So I'm trying to think of a project I can get involved in. The only thing I have in mind at the moment is Stepmania, since it's the only open source game I actually play myself. But I'd be interested in other suggestions too. They don't even necessarily have to be open source--if anyone knows of any independent game projects that need help I'm interested.

"Militant" Secularism

I'm going to headdesk forever next time I hear someone whining about "militant secularism" or "militant atheism". I understand what they mean by it, and I understand that they only mean the "militant" part as "confrontational" or "outspoken". But I don't think it's a very fair characterization, considering the nature of militant religionists. Militant religionists bomb innocent members of different sects of their own religion (not to mention members of other religions). What do "militant secularists" do besides write books, post rants on YouTube, and curse the Pope on Twitter?

And yet people on the religious right complain far more about "militant secularism" than they do about fanaticism in their own religion. But I'd be willing to make a bet as to which militants they feel more threatened by...