Sunday, September 28, 2014

Scattered Thoughts

I have a huge list of chores to address and only today to get through them, so please allow me the following scattershot post in lieu of a “traditional” essay.


We talk about “natural law” quite a lot in tones of excessive confidence that we really know what it is. In point of fact, we mostly believe we know what it is: a level of confidence based on experiments that have yet to produce a perverse result. The touchstone of scientific knowledge is successful, repeatable prediction, so our confidence in some bit of scientific knowledge grows as predictions based on it are made and confirmed. Yet that doesn’t mean we can ever close our minds to the possibility that objective reality might be more complex than our current understanding. Science disallows the very possibility of final, unchallengeable answers.


While we’re on the subject of scientific knowledge, the warmistas have been going a little crazy lately, as it’s now been eighteen years since the last measurable increase in the mean surface temperature of the Earth. That contradicts every last one of their theses and utterly invalidates the applicability of their simulations. But they’re fanatics – persons whose belief doesn't flag in the face of adverse evidence – and fanatics don’t quit. They win or they die. So expect the fusillades to continue for some time to come.


The resignation of Eric Holder from his post as Attorney General of the U.S. has been variably interpreted. Perhaps it really is the “sop to Cerberus” required to mitigate the expected adverse consequences from the midterm elections, or perhaps it was a way to dampen the pressure to investigate the Justice Department's numerous scandals, or perhaps Holder was just tired of functioning as Obama’s loyal lightning rod and Hessian hired gun. Whatever the case, the next phase of the drama must be carefully watched. Remember how many Republican Senators voted to confirm Holder, despite his checkered past. Will they view the nominee for his replacement equally uncritically?


The Israeli-HAMAS quarrel seems to have quieted down a mite in recent weeks, and I’d like to know why. Is it an artifact of preferential reportage on ISIS, the result of pressure by other Palestinians on HAMAS to “stop this shit” (George W. Bush), or the result of Israeli success at destroying HAMAS’s warmaking resources? Is anyone covering the matter well that doesn’t have a Main Stream Media censor hovering over him as he writes?


Lately I’ve been hearing quite a lot of sad commentary about the mediocrity of many of the Congressional and Senatorial candidates the GOP has presented us this year. Though it might fall short of being the consensus, a great many persons are saying things along the line of “Why vote for Tweedledumb over Tweedledumber?” It’s a sentiment that resonates with me. One alternative is to agitate for a strong “None Of The Above Is Acceptable” provision in your state’s constitution: i.e., one which decrees that, should NOTA gain a plurality in an election for some office, that office shall remain vacant and its powers unexercised until the next general election. No more of this “special election” or “implicit powers” BS, please!


Commander M at Ace of Spades this morning cites an article about our “part-time” Congress. To me, that’s a good thing rather than a bad one. Imagine the horrors that institution could inflict on us if it worked a conventional 2000-hour year! So why not intensify the effect: have Congress sit for no more than six weeks per year, perhaps with strengthened quorum rules, to further reduce its inflictions? They don’t meet to repeal legislation, do they?


The New York Yankees’ season has finally come to an end, taking Derek Jeter’s storied career with it. On the one hand, it’s always a sad thing to see a star player retire, especially one who’s brought as much credit to the game as Jeter. On the other, the Yanks are a badly decimated team replete with players who are at or near the end of their useful playing years. They need the winter to rebuild. Let’s hope the front office has its eyes on some burgeoning talent – and the good sense not to try to “buy” a World Championship by trading rising young players for aging veterans with monstrous salaries, as it’s often done in the past.


Speaking of sports, what are the odds that the New York Rangers can improve on last season’s spectacular playoff run? Yes, they lost the Stanley Cup finals, but three of their losses in the finals were in overtime. That suggests that the team is still sound, and might very well contend strongly this coming season...once again, assuming the front office doesn’t, in Robert C. Townsend’s pithy phrase, “pull up the flowers to see how the roots are growing.”


Would anyone care to make a few recommendations for fresh, high quality popular music? I don’t listen to the radio, and just yesterday one of my favorite CDs literally crumbled in the player. I used to dismiss such little hints from time, but no longer.


If you program computers, what are your favorite:

  • Languages?
  • Development suites?
  • Debugging and analysis tools?
  • Source code and version control systems?
  • Ways to “decompress” from an arduous session at the keyboard?

And is there anyone out there who’d like to recommend a suite for developing applications for Android platforms?


That’s it for today, Gentle Reader. Duty calls. Fresh meat tomorrow, I hope!

10 comments:

  1. Re: your "popular music" issue: Why not consider converting your CDs to Mp3 format with iTunes app? You can then burn playlists onto new discs or transfer them to thumb drives to be played via usb jacks in your home player or "Mercy's" aux jack from an iPhone. I also use this system to listen to Mises institute audios during road trips and commutes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sure a lot of younger guys will pile on me for this, but I've used Microsoft Visual C/C++ since it was Microsoft C 1.0 (1983 for those who don't google). The latest revisions of the development suite bundle up all sorts of modern languages, which you can mix and match within one executable app. It's expensive, but once you gain familiarity it's quick, comfortable, and very powerful. The documentation includes 1000's of complete coding examples, allowing you to modify a working system into what you want to build very quickly while you're getting up to speed.

    I'm still looking for a good development environment for Linux-based systems, and I haven't found it yet. The key thing that is missing (I'm probably just blind) is good documentation of how all the libraries interact with each other. To do more than simple console text C programs, one has to know how to talk to the kernal functions, the windowing functions, the desktop functions, and the (X-window) graphics core functions. Examples are scattershot, to say the least.

    I really want to base my current work on a Linux box, so I will keep pounding on this until I either find what I want, or write it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Android Eclipse is not too bad, although the list of supported hardware has yet to keep up.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've developed several terminal apps and GUIs in MS Visual Studio Express (free) in Basic and C#. The latter is preferred when developing corresponding microcontroller firmware in C, as the languages are very similar. For microcontrollers, I usually develop in MPLAB X (based on NetBeans) from Microchip and compile with their XC16 C compiler (both free).

    As for Android, I downloaded and installed the Android Studio Beta (free) from developer.android.com after watching a live demo of how quick and easy it is to get something up and running, even including features like Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity.

    For version control, sadly, I use Dropbox...primarily for backup and syncing project files between multiple computers, however it also does very primitive historical file snapshots -- all for free. (notice a trend here?)

    To decompress, I've found great joy in vegetable gardening. There's nothing like working dirt to rejuvenate the spirit -- almost like we were made that way.

    On what sort of programming projects are you working?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Presently most of the development work I'm doing are ASP.NET web applications with the guts done in C#. I'm most comfortable with the C-like languages, and C# has been a pleasant experience.

    For version control I'm using Microsoft Visual SourceSafe, as it directly integrates with the Visual Studio IDE.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I gave up on the ms dev platform a long time ago. The development world is decidedly moving away from proprietary software to open source (i.e., a service based business model based on components whose development costs are shared across many companies and individuals).

    Scala is quickly surpassing Java as the language of choice. It writes the same byte codes and as such you can call most/if not all of the java based components available. It is extremely concise, has superb collections lib, and lots more.

    I use sbt (simple build tool) for building the scala components. With the eclipse plugin to sbt, you can generate projects for an eclipse that has the scala plugin installed. This allows one to build the system in sbt on system x, build the same system on system y in eclipse, run the system x system with debug options and remotely attach with the eclipse based system on system y for detailed debugging.

    We have recently converted from svn to git (using github.com to host our source). Check out github. LOTS AND LOTS of projects there.

    When the byte codes can't be interpreted fast enough, c++. We have some projects like this where aspects will be likely be recast from the byte code interpreter of the java jvm to a more hard core implementation of c++ based components. *nix offers g++ which is more than satisfactory for most purposes. If you write systems where you need to unroll your loops and avail yourself of parallel instructions in the newer compilers, I am told that the pre-eminent cpu vendor's compiler is quite good.

    To decompress, I read blogs like yours and Ms B's and of course the Good Book. It is particularly useful to remind me that my travails are minimal compared to what is to come. An occasional beer also helps.


    ReplyDelete
  7. Sir, I have long maintained that air conditioning and heating should be banned in D.C. Then the law makers and breakers couldn't be there and do the amount of mischief they do now.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Here in Montana, our legislature only meets every _other_ year. Works much better that way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jeter deserves his accolades, but there has been a down side. This year has been "Derek Jeter and the Yankees". No team can envision itself as a backdrop to The Bigger Drama and do well.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said. Convert all your music to MP3. If you have enough storage, you can rip your CDs to a lossless format, and then convert those to mp3s for portability.

    Languages? - depends entirely on what I need to do. scala is nice, C# is like java but with the worst inconsistencies rubbed off.

    Development suites? - http://www.jetbrains.com/ - these guys tend to make highly rated development environments. Try their free version and see if it works for you.

    Debugging and analysis tools? - see above

    Source code and version control systems? - Mercurial, Git, Subversion in that order. I like the simplicity of Mercurial.

    Ways to “decompress” from an arduous session at the keyboard? - I find that several hours of randori a few times a week does wonders, that and playing with my cats.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated. I am entirely arbitrary about what I allow to appear here. Toss me a bomb and I might just toss it back with interest. You have been warned.