From Terri Kanefield’s blog:

Here’s the thing to remember about democracy in America: We’ve never had a truly representational multicultural and multi-racial democracy.

During the past few decades, we have been moving toward one and this has triggered a powerful backlash. What we are seeing in the Republican Party is the backlash.

I think this is true. I hope we get to one.

Knowing When Not to Fix Something

As professional software engineers working on large code bases, there are always things that are wrong, small bugs to fix, code that can be improved, etc. When working on some issue or bug fix, it's tempting to just fix these other little things to clean up the code. This may be the right thing to do, or it may not. As software engineers we sometimes have to be disciplined and focused in our work. Keep our work contained to the specific issue we're addressing, get that fixed and get it out the door. Then, once that's done, come back and fix that other issue you found. Depending on the work environment you're in, that work might need to be documented and accounted for. It may need to be prioritized and scheduled by a product team or by a project manager. Your fingers might be itching to "just fix it since I'm right here" but it's possible that little fix could introduce other, unforeseen side-effects. I'll never advocate for ignoring or not helping fix things in your software that are broken, but it can be a sign of a more mature software engineer to know when to not fix something that's broken.


Final Four Games

The Bears finally had their bye week and have four games remaining on their schedule. The things I’m most interested in seeing are the changes they make to their offense, if any.

After the loss to the Commanders in week 6, they had a “mini-bye”. During that time they made some changes to they way the offense operates and started a streak of scoring 30+ points per game. Now that they had their real bye week I’m wondering what additional changes they might come up with and how different they’ll look offensively.
What I’d like to see, and am hoping I’ll see, is an offense that takes more risks and puts the game into Fields hands a bit more than his legs. I know, their receivers can’t catch and their line can’t pass block long enough for plays to develop down field. But I hope to be surprised. I hope to see some wrinkles that allow Fields to throw more. More timing throws, more tight windows. That sort of thing.

I’m hoping to see the Bears look even better on offense than they did coming out of their mini-bye leaving fans and the league saying, “Holy crap! If they can do that with so little talent, what are they gonna do next season?” That would make me a very happy Bears fan.

I’m guessing (hoping) we see just that and that the Bears end up winning 3 of their final 4 games. This will, of course, cause them to drop out of the top three in the draft and end up picking somewhere in the 6-9 range leaving fans furious. But that’s OK. I’ll take that along with the feeling they really are a franchise on their way up and should be contending for a Super Bowl in the next few years.


Random Bears Thoughts


All I keep hearing about is how bad the current Bears roster is. No building blocks for the future, need total rebuild on both sides of the line, no receivers, etc. etc. If this roster is as bad as everyone is saying, there is no way next year will be much better than this one. Even with a gazillion dollars in cap space there are only so many players Poles can acquire in the off season. That's a bit disappointing.

Bears Ownership

When does Virginia McCaskey get some blame for the current state of the Bears. When a team is bad, year after year despite changes in players, coaches, GMs, etc. the only one left to blame is the ownership. Sure you can blame Michael and now George the previous and current Chairmen of the team, but she put them in those positions and throughout both their tenures (most of my life), the Bears have pretty much sucked. The Bears need new ownership.

Should Justin Fields Play vs the Packers

I don't care. The only reason to watch the Bears play any more games this season is to watch what Fields can do. For that reason alone, I want to see him play. Without him, it's going to be dreadful and I'll probably do something I almost never do: shut the game off before it's done because you know Rodgers will be screaming he owns the Bears multiple times, flipping off fans, mooning them, whatever. So play him, don't play him, do whatever you think best Matt and I'll watch for however long I can stand it.

Next Season

Guess that's it. As is becoming pretty usual for a fan of this team in December, it's time to start looking forward to the draft and next season. "Wait til next year!" our perennial cry. Also, as usual, it promises to be interesting. Justin Fields sure looks to be "the guy" the Bears have draft picks and cap money to spend. Will be interesting to watch.


Elon Musk Isn't Stupid

Since the purchase of Twitter, Elon Musk has done a lot of things that sure seem stupid, and plenty of people on Twitter and on the internet in general have made that observation. Musk isn't stupid, but yet he seems to be doing a bunch of stupid things.

Everyone with half a brain knew if you eliminated the verification part of Twitter's blue checkmarks and turned it simply into a badge indicating you paid your $8 there would be a complete flood of people impersonating corporate and personal accounts for malicious purposes or simply for laughs. Musk isn't stupid, he too knew that, and he did it anyway.

Twitter's primary source of income is from advertising. In 2021 $4.5 of its $5 billion in revenue came from advertising. Major brands, however, don't want to be associated with anything remotely controversial so they only advertise on "safe" platforms. Musk isn't stupid, he knows this. Despite knowing this, he removed the verification system, he retweets and supports conspiracy theories, threatened war against those brands if they removed their ads and with his "free speech maximalist" stance has signaled there will be many more controversial posts in the future. None of this makes Twitter a "safe" platform on which to advertise.

In today's economy and in the wake of Covid, workers enjoy the freedom to be more flexible in the location and time they work. Especially in the high tech industry programmers are in high demand and an employer has to be willing to do what it takes to keep their talent and to attract high caliber talent. Musk isn't stupid, he knows this, he's been in this exact industry for years. Yet, he immediately fires half the staff. Starts publicly denigrating and firing people who speak out against him. He is instituting a demand that everyone has to work in the office and even announced that anyone staying has to be ready to work excessive numbers of hours - basically saying to hell with "work-life balance". Musk knows all this but he does all this anyway.

It's easy to see all his actions and conclude he's some tech billionaire who is actually clueless about how the entire high business world runs despite years of actually being involved in it. I think that conclusion is wrong. Musk isn't stupid. He does know all this. If he knows all this, we have to ask: Why is he doing it? The only conclusion to draw is he is deliberately trying to destroy Twitter.

He made an ill-tempered decision to buy the company and when he realized he wasn't going to be able to buy his way out of it, that he was actually going to be held accountable for his actions, he immediately reversed course and went through with the deal solely so he could destroy it out of spite. Every action he has taken since his take-over has shown this to be his intention. It's sad to see something like Twitter go since it's been such an integral part of the Internet for the last 10 years. But as they say, all good things must come to an end.


No Good Reason

Sometimes on Saturday mornings I like to sit and watch what I call my "Saturday Morning Cartoons". I'm currently working my way through season 11 of Dr. Who, the first season with Jodie Whittaker as The Doctor. Overall I like the show, it's not bad.

During the episode I watched today, The Doctor encountered an evil alien in a reprisal from their appearance in the first episode of the season. During the episode, The Doctor accused the evil alien of killing people "for no reason" and it got me thinking. That wasn't entirely true. In that first episode, the evil alien was going about the universe killing people to gather trophies of their kills to go back to their home world and demonstrate they were such a good warrior they should become the leader of their people. Now, that strikes me as a perfectly good reason for killing people. I (and The Doctor apparently) may not agree with that reason, or like that reason, or think that reason is kind of sick and disgusting, but that's not the same thing as NO reason.

Which then got me thinking some more. We use that phrase "for no reason" when we want to discount or otherwise dismiss other people's motivations for doing the things they do. We judge that reason as not being "good enough" rather than making the effort to see things from their point of view or understand their motivations. It's easier to just dismiss it out of hand and say they had "no reason". It's harder to try to have empathy with others and to understand why they do the things they do. We may still not agree with their motivations and reasoning and that's OK, we don't all have to always agree with each other. However, if we all at least try to do this, it might make the world a bit better of a place.


Predictions & Thoughts for NFL 2022

We're on the eve of the 2022 NFL season (well, OK, it actually started on Thursday, but we all know Sunday is the REAL start of the NFL season) and there are 2 teams I'm interested in following—besides the Bears of course—and I have a couple of other thoughts to share.

The Las Vegas Raiders

Is one of the teams I'll be watching this season due to their hiring of Josh McDaniels as their new head coach. He famously became the coach of the Broncos in 2009 and quickly flamed out. His tenure there was not good and he himself admits he was too new, too controlling, too young, and wasn't very good. He goes back to New England and in 2018 accepts the head coaching job of the Indianapolis Colts but bails on them leaving them, coaches and coordinators in a lurch. Some thought he burned all his bridges and would never get another head coaching offer again, but along come the Raiders in 2022 and off he goes. I'm interested to see what he does there. How he coaches, how much he's learned and grown over the years since Denver. He's not lacking in talent there but that division is full of good teams. I think it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

The Miami Dolphins

Are the other team I'm watching this season because they seem to have done what just about all of Bears fandom and media wanted the Bears to do: they've gone all in on Tua. They went out and spent a lot on high-priced veterans to surround Tua with the talent he needs to succeed. This is what most people wanted the Bears to do with Justin Fields. However, there are still questions as to whether Tua really is a franchise quarterback just like there are questions as to whether Fields can be a franchise QB. So this is an interesting experiment. Let's say by the end of the 2022 season it's clear Tua isn't—where does that leave the Dolphins? They'll be in a position where they need to go get a new QB high in the 2023 draft who will take at least a year or two to be really ready to lead the team, assuming the pick works out. Meanwhile all those expensive veterans they went out and got will be eating up cap space, getting older and their deals will be running out by the time the new guy is ready to lead the team. I don't know that's a good plan. The Bears, on the other hand, are taking a different approach. They didn't surround Fields with proven talent because Fields hasn't proven he's "the guy". Their plan is to find that out this year. If he is, then next season they will have plenty of cap space and draft picks to surround him with the talent he needs to succeed. If it turns out he's not, they go draft a new QB and it's rebuild all over again, but with a more or less clean slate. This will be fun to watch.

Two other thoughts

Aside from those two teams, there are two coaches that I find intriguing right now: Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers and Sean McVay of the Rams.

Having lived in Wisconsin most of my adult life, I've been exposed to plenty of Packers media coverage. Watching the LaFleur tenure has been interesting. He came in as the new head coach and had to deal with the the notoriously prickly and sensitive Aaron Rodgers. By drafting Jordan Love, it seems clear the Packers were ready to move on from Rodgers if things didn't work out between him and LaFleur. But LaFleur was able to win over Rodgers, install a whole new offensive scheme, one Rodgers admittedly doesn't like as much, and keep him playing at a high level. When he was hired, I didn't think LaFleur would last. I thought the Packers were joining the pack in hiring any young guy who may have been somewhat influenced by McVay in the hopes he'd bring some of that Rams magic to the Packers. Now, I think he has shown himself to be a really good head coach who may just be in Green Bay for a long time.

As for Sean McVay, I'm beginning to think he may end up being known as one of the best head coaches in NFL history. He and the Rams GM, Les Snead, are doing things differently and succeeding at it. McVay isn't afraid to swap out players, define unconventional roles for them, find ways to get the most out of them, and work around their deficiencies. All the hallmarks of a good coach. Many coaches say they do that, or at least try to do that, I think few succeed. McVay is one that really does that. He's not afraid to try new things, and to change things up based on how the players and the league changes around him. As for the Rams organization, they've completely upended the way they go about acquiring players. They toss around draft picks like they're nothing, pay free agents tons of money to come there, and aren't afraid to let talented players go to other teams. I think in several years we'll look back and see that the Rams organization has changed the way many teams operate.

That's it for me for today. The NFL season is about to start for me and I'm excited to watch the Bears play the 49ers.

Go Bears!


They Want This to Happen

Another day, another senseless school shooting, and another round of politicians offering their “thoughts and prayers” while not actually doing anything about the epidemic of gun violence in this country. I’ve reached the point where all I can conclude from this is politicians want these shootings to continue.

Why they want this, I don’t know. I know if they actually wanted to reduce the number of people murdered every year by gun violence, they would take action by passing sensible laws to restrict or otherwise control the flood of arms and ammunition into our society. But they don’t. Hence I can only conclude they don’t want to. They want this violence to continue.

I know, they talk about second amendment rights and how they can’t do anything, but that’s bullshit plain and simple. We don’t let people in this country buy fully automatic weapons and that’s constitutional. Why not restrict the ownership of other types of weapons as well?

Because they don’t want to.

We already have laws that prevent certain people from owning guns and those laws are perfectly constitutional. Why not pass more laws expanding who can’t own a gun?

Because they don’t want to.

They’ll say laws like that don’t actually reduce gun violence but that’s a lie. Reduce the availability of guns and you’ll reduce gun violence. It’s that simple.

My own congressman, Paul Ryan, is the goddamn Speaker of the House! He sets the legislative agenda for the entire House of Representatives. He decides which bills come to the floor and which do not. Furthermore, he announced he’s retiring at the end of this term so he has nothing to fear from constituents or doners and yet…he’ll do nothing. All I can conclude is that he, like all the other politicians in congress, for some sick reason, wants this senseless slaughter of children to continue. I don’t understand it.

I don’t care what party any of these people belong to, they’re all at fault because they all clearly want this to continue. If they didn’t, they’d do something about it.

It is that simple.


That Ben Franklin Quote

Hmm. Lately again I’ve seen this quote floating around on Facebook and other social media sites:

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” – Ben Franklin

It is often used by people to justify their standing up for their individual rights against an oppressive federal government. I decided to do some research to get some historical context and came up with this: What Ben Franklin Really Said. Turns out, it’s really being misused in most circumstances.

When Franklin wrote that, he was writing to the Governor of Pennsylvania. The state legislature was attempting to pass a law raising taxes on land owners to pay for a militia to help defend homesteads on the border against Indian attacks. The Governor (at the request of the Penn family) kept vetoing the legislation. The Penn family offered to pay for the militia out of their pocket if the legislature would agree they did not have the authority to levy such a tax. This was what Franklin was arguing: Giving up the essential liberty of self-governance to obtain temporary safety was wrong. The legislature had the right and the duty to act in the best interests of the people. Seems to me, the most parallel situation today is our Congress’s unwillingness to challenge executive orders ostensibly designed to protect our borders and keep us safe. If there is such a threat to our safety and security, then Congress ought to be passing laws to increase border protection and raise the taxes necessary to pay for such protection, rather than ceding that authority to the President. The Democratic Congress was derelict in its duty when it allowed then President Bush to launch wars for our protection through executive orders rather than through a congressional declaration of war. Republicans in congress showed some spine when Mr. Obama was in office and they were willing to challenge some of his orders, but now that they have “their guy” in office, they too are willing to cede their responsibility to the President. All those people who want change in Washington need to remember this in 2018 when all of congress is up for reelection. Vote for people who will stand up for our constitutional rights and who will do their job rather than running scared from a President with a twitter account just because he belongs to your party.


It's the Little Things

It’s taking pleasure in the little things in life that helps keep me happy.

My dad was an electrician. As a result, growing up I would help him with various electrical tasks around the house (usually amounting to “hold that damn flashlight steady!”) and I learned some things. Then, as I grew older and got a house of my own, I would have him come by and help me with various things like putting in light fixtures, changing switches, outlets, etc. Little things.

Throughout all that, I still never quite got a grasp on electricity (and I don’t mean that physically). Despite having a Ph.D. in computer science, I still struggle with the simple concept of the flow of electricity through a circuit. Something about it just eludes me. Despite my father’s trying again and again to explain it to me and teach me through numerous projects, I just don’t get it. I can wire up a switch, outlet, light fixture, fan, etc. but it is still pretty much rote memory in me without quite understanding what I’m doing.

A few weeks ago we put up ceiling fan in our bedroom. We moved into our current house over a year ago and the house had no ceiling fans in any of the bedrooms. Having had them in our old house, we really wanted them here in our new one. So I installed one in our bedroom. However, when I installed it, I didn’t quite know how to wire it up so that the light would be controlled by the switch on the wall and the fan would be controlled by the pull-chain regardless of whether the switch was “on” or not. So for a while, I lived with having to leave the wall switch on and then come bed each night in a dark room flailing around with my hands towards a running ceiling fan trying to find the pull-chain to turn the bedroom light on. Not a good solution.

Well, finally the light-bulb came on. (Yes, that pun was intended.) After talking with my brothers and sister and hooking up another fan in my daughter’s room, I finally figured out what I had done wrong in my room and thought I knew how to fix it. So, yesterday (on Labor Day) I got up there and rewired it and TA-DA! I can now control the light from the switch on the wall and the fan from the pull-chain on the fixture. It exciting being able to walk into the room, hit the switch and see the light come on all while the fan is still running. No flailing necessary.

Like I said, it’s taking joy in the little things that make my life worthwhile. I think my dad would have been a little happy with me.


May the Fourth...

OK, I succumbed to the whole “May the 4th” thing and decided to get my geek on and watch Star Wars tonight. My mistake. When we moved last summer we decided to set up the home theater in the basement and leave the TV in the living room as just a TV (with an AppleTV hooked up to it). Up until now that arrangement has worked just fine.

Tonight I wanted to watch Star Wars. No problem.

Oh wait, problem, my TV upstairs doesn’t have a DVD/Blu-Ray player hooked up to it and I don’t feel like sitting in the basement.

Oh, wait, no problem, I’ll just stream it from my computer to the AppleTV. Cool.

Oh wait, problem. My recent MacBook Pro doesn’t have a DVD drive in it. Damn.

Oh wait, no problem, I’ll just use my older MacBook computer that I use for work. That has a DVD drive in it.

Oh crap. That machine is too old and can’t stream to AppleTV. Grrrr.

Ah hah, I’ll just use Apple’s drive-sharing feature and share the old machine’s DVD drive with my MacBook Pro and stream to the AppleTV that way. I’m so clever.

No dice. My MacBook Pro froze up in trying to do that and I had to force reboot.

I know, I’ll drag out that old USB DVD drive I have sitting in my desk drawer for just such occasions. OK, I’m good to go! Movie playing, stream to AppleTV. Grey box. WTF? The movie is playing, I’m hearing video, but the DVD player window is only showing a big grey box where the movie should be.

Quick google search…

Yep. Apple does not allow its DVD player app to stream to AppleTVs. WTF Apple.

What does…google search…VLC. Ah hah! Download VLC, easy to install, get it running. Playing, streaming to AppleTV. Ta-da! Whew.

30 seconds later…

WTF?!?! The movie just froze on the TV. Still playing on the computer, but froze on the TV. Now, the computer is locking up. Hmmm, now the movie stopped playing on the computer and AirPlay is no longer an option available on my menu bar. sigh. I give up.

I get the whole anti-piracy stance that Apple takes. I’m against copying, I don’t steal content just because I want something and it’s not conveniently available to me. But what is the point of all the above? I’m not trying to steal anything, I just want to watch a DVD I purchased. I ought to be able to view it on whatever device I want without Apple or the DVD publishers deciding that certain screens are forbidden to me. Furthermore, who is this stopping? Grandmas? Anyone sufficiently technologically capable can work around all these stupid precautions. The only people these roadblocks actually stop are people who would never be interested in pirating the videos in the first place.

I guess instead of watching Star Wars tonight, I’ll rip the DVD to my computer with Handbrake and watch it that way.