Democracy Grief Is Real

An article about the emotional reaction to watching your country  descend into blackness.   Here are key some quotes:

When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term, the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it….

Though the president will almost certainly be impeached for extorting Ukraine to aid his re-election, he is equally certain to be acquitted in the Senate, a tacit confirmation that he is, indeed, above the law. His attorney general is a shameless partisan enforcer. Professional civil servants are purged, replaced by apparatchiks. The courts are filling up with young, hard-right ideologues…

It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease,” she said, speaking of our country. “Each day, you still have that little hope no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else…

What’s going on in the government is so extreme, that people who have no history of overwhelming psychological trauma still feel crazed by this…

Democracy grief isn’t like regular grief. Acceptance isn’t how you move on from it. Acceptance is itself a kind of death.

 

Understanding The U.S. Economy: Lots Of Rotten Jobs

From forbes.com Dec 5th 2019

When U.S. unemployment is at a 50-year low, why do so many people have trouble finding work with decent pay and adequate predictable hours? A new economic indicator—the US Private Sector Job Quality Index (JQI)—gives the answer: we have lots of jobs, but they are increasingly low-quality jobs

Graph of US Job Quality Index

Why Christian Nationalism Is a Threat to Democracy

According to Nancy LeTourneau’s essay in the Washington Monthly:

We have to grapple with the fact that Christian nationalists are launching a “direct attack on democracy itself.” That is because real democracy poses a threat to the kind of authoritarianism they embrace. The roots of that were explained by William Barr during his speech to the law school at Notre Dame. He began by articulating his own view of human nature.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

Barr goes on to suggest that, when the founders talked about self government, they didn’t mean what we think they did.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But if individual rapacity is the problem, what is the source of those restraints?

[T]o control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

When you combine that with the belief among Christian nationalists that the only true religion is Christianity, you have the antithesis of democratic pluralism. Instead, you have authoritarian theocracy. That loops us back to Franklin Graham and the rest of the court evangelicals, who take it upon themselves to define who is on God’s side and who is doing the work of the devil.

Years ago, Sara Robinson captured what it takes to leave that kind of authoritarian mindset.

We must never, ever underestimate what it costs these people to let go of the beliefs that have sustained them…Externally, it always means the loss of your community; and often the loss of jobs, homes, marriages, and blood relatives as well. Internally, it requires sifting through every assumption you’ve ever made about how the world works, and your place within it; and demands that you finally take the very emotional and intellectual risks that the entire edifice was designed to protect you from. You have to learn, maybe for the first time, to face down fear and live with ambiguity.

While the loss of community can be traumatic, the prospect of “sifting through every assumption you’ve ever made about how the world works” is overwhelming. As she points out, the entire edifice is designed to protect you from fear and the threat of ambiguity. For most people, scaling that one is too much to ask.

Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger’s letter to the NYTimes about the causes of the 737 Max crash

From: http://www.sullysullenberger.com/my-letter-to-the-editor-of-new-york-times-magazine/

Letter to the Editor
Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger
New York Times Magazine
Published in print on October 13, 2019

In “What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 MAX?” William Langewiesche draws the conclusion that the pilots are primarily to blame for the fatal crashes of Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302.

In resurrecting this age-old aviation canard, Langewiesche minimizes the fatal design flaws and certification failures that precipitated those tragedies, and still pose a threat to the flying public. I have long stated, as he does note, that pilots must be capable of absolute mastery of the aircraft and the situation at all times, a concept pilots call airmanship.  Inadequate pilot training and insufficient pilot experience are problems worldwide, but they do not excuse the fatally flawed design of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that was a death trap.

As one of the few pilots who have lived to tell about being in the left seat of an airliner when things went horribly wrong, with seconds to react, I know a thing or two about overcoming an unimagined crisis. I am also one of the few who have flown a Boeing 737 MAX Level D full motion simulator, replicating both accident flights multiple times. I know firsthand the challenges the pilots on the doomed accident flights faced, and how wrong it is to blame them for not being able to compensate for such a pernicious and deadly design.

These emergencies did not present as a classic runaway stabilizer problem, but initially as ambiguous unreliable airspeed and altitude situations, masking MCAS. The MCAS design should never have been approved, not by Boeing, and not by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The National Transportation Safety Board has found that Boeing made faulty assumptions both about the capability of the aircraft design to withstand damage or failure, and the level of human performance possible once the failures began to cascade. Where Boeing failed, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should have stepped in to regulate but it failed to do so.

Lessons from accidents are bought in blood and we must seek all the answers to prevent the next one. We need to fix all the flaws in the current system — corporate governance, regulatory oversight, aircraft maintenance, and yes, pilot training and experience. Only then can we ensure the safety of everyone who flies.

The above letter to the editor was mentioned in the article Self-regulation failed with banks, but with aircraft it can kill/. This article goes into considerably more detail concerning the structural regulatory deficiency that led to the 737 Max crashes.

Marie Yovanovitch’s Moral Courage (testifying before Congress, defying Trump)

From the New York Times article, 10/20/2019:

It took a woman to break the spell of ‘sovereign masculinity’ that appeared to put the president above the law.

moral courage required an ability to “judge without banisters,” that is, to judge the unique and specific case in a situation that is radically unprecedented, with no universal rule available under which to subsume it. Moral courage, she taught us, is about exercising independent judgment in a situation where the rules collapse.

Yovanovitch didn’t just follow the law by complying with the subpoena, she restored the dignity and authority of that law, which had been weakened and thrown into crisis by a pattern of obstruction. Refusing subservience to the word-as-law claimed by the executive branch was an act of independent judgment.

Her moral courage struck a blow to sovereign masculinity and political authoritarianism as they are intertwined in our contemporary politics.

Object-Oriented Programming — The Trillion Dollar Disaster

This article in medium.com talks how OOP hasn’t delivered on it’s promises, and how there’s no one objectively measuring this in the software development world.  I’ve been thinking along these lines for decades:

Here’s a summary of the article from slashdot.org:

Senior full-stack engineer Ilya Suzdalnitski recently published a lively 6,000-word essay calling object-oriented programming “a trillion dollar disaster.”

Precious time and brainpower are being spent thinking about “abstractions” and “design patterns” instead of solving real-world problems… Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) has been created with one goal in mind — to manage the complexity of procedural codebases. In other words, it was supposed to improve code organization. There’s no objective and open evidence that OOP is better than plain procedural programming… Instead of reducing complexity, it encourages promiscuous sharing of mutable state and introduces additional complexity with its numerous design patterns. OOP makes common development practices, like refactoring and testing, needlessly hard…

Using OOP is seemingly innocent in the short-term, especially on greenfield projects. But what are the long-term consequences of using OOP? OOP is a time bomb, set to explode sometime in the future when the codebase gets big enough. Projects get delayed, deadlines get missed, developers get burned-out, adding in new features becomes next to impossible. The organization labels the codebase as the “legacy codebase“, and the development team plans a rewrite…. OOP provides developers too many tools and choices, without imposing the right kinds of limitations. Even though OOP promises to address modularity and improve reusability, it fails to deliver on its promises…

I’m not criticizing Alan Kay’s OOP — he is a genius. I wish OOP was implemented the way he designed it. I’m criticizing the modern Java/C# approach to OOP… I think that it is plain wrong that OOP is considered the de-facto standard for code organization by many people, including those in very senior technical positions. It is also wrong that many mainstream languages don’t offer any other alternatives to code organization other than OOP.
The essay ultimately blames Java for the popularity of OOP, citing Alan Kay’s comment that Java “is the most distressing thing to happen to computing since MS-DOS.” It also quotes Linus Torvalds’s observation that “limiting your project to C means that people don’t screw things up with any idiotic ‘object model’.”

And it ultimately suggests Functional Programming as a superior alternative, making the following assertions about OOP:

  • “OOP code encourages the use of shared mutable state, which has been proven to be unsafe time and time again… [E]ncapsulation, in fact, is glorified global state.”
  • “OOP typically requires a lot of boilerplate code (low signal-to-noise ratio).”
  • “Some might disagree, but OOP code is notoriously difficult to unit test… [R]efactoring OOP code is really hard without dedicated tools like Resharper.”
  • “It is impossible to write good and maintainable Object-Oriented code.”

 

Bad drainage on Beach Dr between Old Spring Rd and Stoneybrook Dr

Here are a few pictures from Jan 21st of the drainage problem on Beach Dr between Old Spring Rd and Stoneybrook Dr (map):

 

The nearby drain under the road was not clogged, I think it’s just a result of water coming down the hill from the Mormon Temple after the record amount of rain at the end of 2018.

Montgomery Country DOT has been notified and said they will look into it.