Creative Problem Solver. Programmer. Bodysurfing. Sometime Comics.
Blogger since 2001.

own yr www rn! #IndieWeb

Linkorinos for Friday

I wrote about Ed Piskor the other day. Katie Skelly’s obituary is a comprehensive
retelling of his career. Too short.

Maybe I’ve not mentioned Ukraine lately. But Ukraine must win. Most, if not all things, Timothy Snyder recommends ought to be read carefully: Congress must let Ukraine win:

The Ukrainian armed forces are defending basic American interests. They are doing things that Americans cannot do for themselves. By absorbing the entire Russian attack, they are making other wars in Europe impossible. They deter China without in any way provoking Beijing. By showing that a nuclear power can be resisted, they teach other countries that they need not build nuclear weapons. For two years, Ukrainians have protected us as well as their own people.

Most Americans understand this, and want to help Ukraine. And most elected representatives do, too.

But we are letting the Ukrainians down. It has been more than 470 days since Congress passed legislation to support Ukraine. That is most of the time since Russia invaded in February 2022. During the period of our inaction, Russia has reconstituted its army. It is preparing a new offensive, testing Ukraine across the front and illegally using CS gas to drive Ukrainian soldiers from their trenches.

I’ve been reading Oliver Willis for a long time. Here’s a political opinion piece worth a glance: Trump’s Big Dumb Mouth Is Biden’s Election Secret Weapon. I also quite like his thoughts on what Fox News actually is to its watchers (No, it’s not a news outlet despite being dressed in news outlet clothing).

Contrast Rebellion is a terrific rant, but also a solid reminder about the importance of color contrast in web design for accessibility. via Alex Sirac

Reilly Spitzfaden added an RSS feed last month. RSS is good.

“There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!”–being the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Underdog: Canine Caped Crusader: The 60th Anniversary of “Underdog”. I loved Underdog as a kid. I liked it in the same way I liked Mr. Peabody and Sherman or The Mighty Heroes: all of them have an absurd quality but also are in some way heroic.

Underdog Fun Book, 1970s.

From February, but still true, about Buffalo Keaulana: One Of The Best Bodysurfers Of All Time on The Bodysurf Blog. Live your life so Greg Noll says cool stuff about you:

“He looked so natural streaking across the waves like a seal. I actually expected him to turn and swim out to sea when he was done,” said Greg Noll. “He was one of the best bodysurfers on the face of the earth. If you’ve ever watched guys get right in the pocket and do the roll deal, Buffalo was the guy who invented that.”

This is the kind of thing I write in response to a thing on Slack or Facebook and then decide not to post as a reply. I don’t know where this goes. I’ve been leaning into being a bit ranty lately. Gotta write this shit down:

It is indeed appalling that we must reckon when the fact that some people who suck also do things which are important. One would think Americans could understand this better than most people since we have the stellar example of one Thomas Jefferson to embody both profound achievement in human rights while also being an unrepentant slaver.

I didn’t participate in CSS Naked Day but I did make some improvements to my sidebar so that the inline backgrounds I set are done as CSS custom attributes (var‘s). This is site is pretty good without CSS, but viewing it that way is for you to do yourself.

How? Well: document.querySelector('head').remove() in the Developer Tools in your browser will do it.

gRegor shared Four Years of Blank, a heartfelt reckoning with COVID and how our public health response faltered and now has basically evaporated. I will admit to treating it with less acuity than I once did. Though I suspect I’ll never get on a plane without a mask again. And I’ll be masking whenever I am sick and anywhere indoors with strangers. Long COVID is not well understood but sure appears to have a strong basis in scientific fact.

March MODOK Madness was again a hoot.

I particularly love this one “with a color palette from an old Campari advertisement”.

I contributed one this year. ALL BOW BEFORE MODOK!

Speaking of drawing, I did do a map for No, Bridges Don’t Float and I have some works in progress in paper and in Procreate. But I’ve been busy.

I have a contract! Very enjoyable work, and challenging. It’s in the programming language Python and involves localization (L10n). Python is a language that’s been on my resume as a weak skill and after this I’ll feel confident putting it on with more weight.

The XZ near-miss was sure a wake up call for software. I like Tim Bray’s idea OSQI (open source quality initiative), which is of a piece with Common Good Cyber and The Institute for Security + Technology.

Take Pride In Your Website:

When I look at my website, I see the product of efforts of years gone by. The weekends in the pandemic where I had nothing to do and asked myself what tiny things I could do with my website. The evenings where I have written under fairy lights the thoughts that have been on my mind. The days when I have felt inspired by seeing a moment that brought me joy and said “I should document this!” and did so on this website.

Same, James, same!

The one about the web developer job market:

“The software developer job market today looks at least as bad as it did in the aftermath of the dot-com collapse.”

That piece is worth a close read. It has impacted a few of my friends and colleagues.

Adjacently, you deserve a tech union.

I think a lot about the limits of technology. Yes, of course, technology can in theory do anything. Technology allows people with broken eyes to have a laser applied such that they can see. We cured smallpox. We cut a channel across the whole of the thin part of the Americas to form the Panama Canal. Tech put a tunnel 30 miles long (50 km) underwater from France to England. And our TV and media is often about boffins solving the end of the universe with seconds to spare with SCIENCE!

And it is amazing.

But I also love a story about failure along those lines. This one is one of my favorites: The Untold History of Toontown’s SpeedChat (or BlockChat™ from Disney finally arrives), about the possibility to use programming to create a user interface that could be used safely for kids, without the possibility of abuse:

“We spent several weeks building a UI that used pop-downs to construct sentences, and only had completely harmless words – the standard parts of grammar and safe nouns like cars, animals, and objects in the world.”

“We thought it was the perfect solution, until we set our first 14-year old boy down in front of it. Within minutes he’d created the following sentence:

I want to stick my long-necked Giraffe up your fluffy white bunny.

KA-Worlds abandoned that approach. Electric Communities is right, chat is out.”

Many folks are saying these days “A I” will soon solve many many problems. Sure, maybe. But where’s your evidence for that? It’s rather thin on the ground.

New Steve Martin documentary is great and like most biographical things about heroes of mine made me weep a bit. Among the great things are excerpts and screen captures of the notebooks he kept, to document his process of performing comedy. The one that made me tear up was this advice to himself, after presumably a difficult performance onstage, the kind of self-advice I have given myself more than a few times:

“Don’t shake. Relax.”

So to you, dear reader, I say, “don’t shake, relax.”

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