Lovecraftian fiction is invariably the tale of someone who’s gone ‘too far’

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Vision of Terror, by Jorge Jacinto

On the Center and the Periphery

Joseph Campbell once said that most of us stay comfortably at the centre of human society and consciousness, with only scientists, philosophers, and artists willing to stray to the outer edge.

It’s true, of course. Most people do tend to stay closer to shore. People by and large approach anything out on the fringe with mincing, timid steps. New foods, new music, new art, new ideas: these are the things which the mainstream shuns, or at the very least, patently ignores. New is different; it’s uncomfortable and painfully unfamiliar. …

When to be scared of the maniac, and when to recoil from the maniac in you

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I’m always looking for great horror. Terror not so much.

I peruse movie sites, book stores, graphic novels, what have you. I dig into the ‘Horror’ section, and am very often left empty-handed.

Why? Is there not enough content? Oh no, there’s plenty upon plenty. Horror is a very popular genre. It hangs tough with action and romance, no doubt about that. Content-wise, there is a plethora of work in the Horror genre.

Is the stuff not scary enough for me? Well, a lot of the time — especially in movies and TV — the “scary” is the usual ghost in the mirror, killer just behind you, creepy thing running past in the shadows deal. Yeah, it’s scary, I guess. I mean, I jump when I’m expected to jump. My heart does that fear clench. I wince my eyes as the moron decides to investigate the blackened haunted basement. …

Explain Tech Debt to business people in a way that they can comprehend

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Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

It’s funny how often tech debt gets ignored by business people. Not haha funny, but ironically so. It is ironic, because it is such a common problem in software companies that the business / sales / boss types don’t seem to care about tech debt. The responses I’ve heard run the gamut of “We need features, not perfect code,” to “We can fix that another time,” to “that’s a tech thing, not a business problem”, as if we engineers / devs were climate scientists / pandemic experts.

It is a constant source of frustration for devs and engineers that no one seems to listen to the fact that tech debt is creeping like a malaise over the code base. Why won’t your boss or business people listen when you tell them the code is covered in tech debt, that it’s getting unmanageable, that we have a big problem if we don’t deal with it? …

Avoid the common mistake of leaping to implementation before you understand what you’re trying to build

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash


Here’s the situation. I need to build a test harness to verify that when my software sends / receives data to some other system (a system outside my control), the data is not only received, but is in fact the data I expected to have been sent.

Pretty standard test harness stuff, right? The testers say they need this for manual and for automation testing suites. Internal customer need. Great.

So the developer starts rattling off software tools / languages we will use to build this test harness.

Wait, what?

Not so fast, cowpoke

How did we get from a high level need to implementation that fast? Where are our requirements? Where are our user stories? Where the heck are even some simple sequence / flow diagrams to describe whussup? …

You have a right to an opinion, but that doesn’t make it equal

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Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

We’ve all heard it nine ways from Sunday. Someone voices a half-baked or uneducated or hyperbolic opinion (often at a family gathering), which, when backed into an intellectual corner to justify their nonsensical belief, counter with this line

“My opinion is as valid as anyone’s!”

We’ve heard it before, and we feel frustrated, stymied by this truism of democratic life. Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and yes, their opinion is as valid as anyone else’s. …

Don’t put labels on your art which you wouldn’t apply to yourself

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Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

“No one says a novel has to be one thing. It can be anything it wants to be, a vaudeville show, the six o’clock news, the mumblings of wild men saddled by demons.” — Ishmael Reed, Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down

I was seventeen when I first read Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. The year was 1984. The 1983 film adaptation had come out the previous summer, and my advanced literature High School teacher had ingeniously added it to the curriculum in an effort to capitalise on the film’s popularity and a brief resurgence in the book’s readership.

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Being an advanced placement English literature class, many of my classmates didn’t see Bradbury as much other than a “Science Fiction” writer, and said so. …

Behind all its pseudo-intellectual jibber-jabber, Traditionalism is a political philosophy which sugarcoats a fascist / feudal nightmare for everyone but the few

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Equality, democracy and progress are ‘evil’, apparently

Thanks to tiresome rise of the Alt-Right, as well as the distasteful resurgence of totalitarian / ultra-nationalist movements around the planet, you may have heard about this political philosophy called ‘Traditionalism’. You may have seen it mentioned in news articles about Russia or Turkey, Brazil or Hungary. You may have heard it in reference to far-right religious movements. It can be referred to by any number of names, but the philosophy behind it is usually just a variation on a theme. If you don’t know what Traditionalism is, brace yourself. You are in for a rude awakening.

“Kingship was the supreme form of government, and was believed to be in the natural order of things. It did not need physical strength to assert itself, and when it did, it was only sporadically. It imposed itself mainly and irresistibly through the spirit.”
Julius Evola (Revolt Against the Modern…

While world democracies squabble, Putin and his deranged philosopher are plotting to bring about an autocratic world order

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I recently read a report from Pew research which showed that about a third of US Republicans have a ‘favourable view’ of Vladimir Putin, and have confidence in his handling of world affairs.

One need not dig too deeply to work out how that shift has occurred over the last four years. Let’s start with Trump’s inexplicable (not to mention unbelievably creepy) man-crush on the Russian autocrat. From his eagerness to bring Putin back into the G8, to his regular praise and support of Putin, all the way down to recent reports that Trump knew of Russia’s campaign to pay bounties to terrorist groups in Afghanistan to kill US soldiers, Trump continues with his non-stop praise of Putin and the way he runs Russia. “I respect Putin,” Trump said in November. …

How uncertain times and a rapidly-shifting future leads to the next vision for humanity

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Photo by Manyu Varma on Unsplash

Mythology is not a lie, mythology is poetry, it is metaphorical. It has been well said that mythology is the penultimate truth — penultimate because the ultimate cannot be put into words. It is beyond words. Beyond images, beyond that bounding rim of the Buddhist Wheel of Becoming. Mythology pitches the mind beyond that rim, to what can be known but not told. — Joseph Campbell

You live in a dark and uncertain time. You are watching the way of things, the world order you have always known begin to degrade, shift, corrupt. You see the flow of commerce move to new ports. Alliances crumble, new unimaginable threats to your way of life rear their head. …

Treat your API like it’s the most important piece of your product, because it is

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“So we need pagination for data coming out of the API,” I said. We’re building a new product, and customers can grab any/all of their data via a “Get All Resources” RESTful call. “We can’t let someone request all their data at once. That could end up being millions of records.”

“Oh the website will deal with the pagination,” someone said. “Just let the API send the data, and the website will do that heavy lifting.”

I shot that down as fast as I could.

Treating Your API as a Second-Class Citizen

This kind of thinking is not that uncommon in the way many people do development. They treat their API as little more than a source of data for their website, and thus make all kinds of assumptions, take all kinds of shortcuts in designing their API because of this thinking. …


Christopher Laine

Author, programmer, would-be philosopher. Author of Screens

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