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Found in My Bathroom

Looks like somebody left a little pea on the toilet seat…

Have a great weekend!


P.S. Photo courtesy my daughter, Abbie.

Bits & Pieces 2014-01-30

Links and things that I’ve run across recently.

… or not so recently.

Perl and other programming stuff

Some of what I’ve been doing during my absence from this blog, and some stories I hope to tell in more detail both here and on my software-development blog:

  • Tom Metro and I launched a new brand for our Perl project consulting: welcome to The Perl Shop.

  • I gave a talk on Perl 6 benchmarking, for our local Perl Mongers group, in December.

  • I also participated in the Dallas/Fort Worth Perl Mongers Winter Hackathon. I hope to write more about the experience, the reason I participated, and my data-deduplication solution, all on my SD blog.

  • In the interim, I also happened upon a phone interview with a local company looking for real developers to do advanced JavaScript stuff. I imagine it’s probably a really nice place to work, but I was left with a less-than-competent impression based on the interviewers displayed programming skills. That’s yet another story, but it’s also how most companies do programmer interviews. Brief lesson: if you don’t mind looking like an idiot, feel free to follow what all the other idiots are doing.

Getting Drunk on Fringe

I’ve been slowly making my way through Fringe on NetFlix.

I discovered a new drinking game. Here’s how it works:

Step 1: Watch Fringe with me.  Click to continue »

The Curious Story of Tamar

Matthew begins his gospel by breaking the rules.

It’s not so much that he includes a boring genealogy that breaks the rules—although from a storytelling perspective, starting with a boring genealogy certainly breaks the storytelling rules. To the ancient Jews, genealogies were very important, and they pop up throughout the Bible.

Rather, it’s the way that Matthew tells his genealogy that’s likely to raise eyebrows.

For one thing, he names several women, which is definitely against the rules. The last was Bath-Sheba; King David murdered Uriah in order to steal her for himself. And in David’s ancestry, he mentions Ruth, who was a Moabite. And before that, Rahab, the whore from Jericho. And before that, Tamar, the mother of Peretz and Zerach, of whom you may never have even heard.

She is not to be confused with King David’s daughter Tamar, raped by her half-brother Amnon, who was then murdered by her other brother Absalom. (Sheesh! Being in a royal family sure does result in a lot of drama, doesn’t it?) That Tamar has a different story.  Click to continue »

The Trouble with Religious Morality

Today’s Quote

The trouble with religious morality comes not from morality’s being inescapably pure, but from religion’s being incurably unintelligible.

(Bernard Williams)

Williams, Bernard. “God, Morality, and Prudence.” Morality: An Introduction to Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1993. 72. Print.

Sir Bernard Williams was a British moral philosopher, and one of the most influential of the latter half of the twentieth century.

He didn’t propose any systematic philosophical theory—indeed, was suspicious of any such attempt. Rather, he tried to address the question of how to live, focusing on the complexity of everyday life. The study of ethics, he argued, should be vital and compelling. He wanted to find an approach that was accountable to psychology, history, politics, and culture.

(Source: “Bernard Williams.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 Jan. 2014.)  Click to continue »

Being a “Good” Parent

I ran across this e-card on social media:

“Some people need to learn to be a parent and not a friend. Quit being scared of making your kids mad. They'll get over it.”

Maybe… But I also think it’s more complicated than that. Our job as parents is to teach our kids how to be adults. So in every experience, we should be looking for the learning opportunity and how to make it real to our kids.

But upsetting them needlessly, or—what is worse—treating them to our own fear and anger, is unlikely to prompt them to internalize the constructive wisdom they’ll need those few years hence, when they accept complete responsibility and control for their own lives.

And this has nothing to do with being afraid your kids will hate you. Out of all the people I know, I don’t know any parents who seem to be afraid their kids won’t like them.

And that’s also not the same as making them mad, because it’s possible to be mad at someone and still have a close relationship with them. And I imagine most parents understand this, because how often are we mad at our kids?

Mostly, the dysfunctions I observe with parents and their children—or at least the phenomena that scare me—revolve around parents who can’t trust their kids, and kids who can’t be honest with their parents. If anything, I would think this more likely the result of not being afraid enough of upsetting one’s kids (whether by making them mad, or sad, or just plain disillusioned), and neglecting to balance these negative feelings with a healthy dose of positive love-activity.  Click to continue »

What I’m Doing on

Dragon Quest VIII-Jeremy G

I’ve begun listing certain public SD mini-projects as quests on my page at

These include a few items that fell out of my recent “Benchmarking Perl 6″ talk:

  • Produce and release a video of the talk
  • Suggest Pull Requests for perl6-bench
  • Port the Richards benchmark to Perl

But I will be adding to this list any items that may be of interest to the broader SD community, and especially the Perl community. is a social TODO list, strongest amongst Perl developers. You can publicly post goals, aka “quests,” that you intend to pursue. And others can then like or comment on them, give you feedback, encourage you (or otherwise). When you complete quests, you get points.

Feel free to check out the site. And feel free to vote up whichever quests you feel are most important for me to complete.


Benchmarking Perl 6: How Ready for Prime Time Is It?

Racing at the 2009 Camel Cup in Alice Springs, Australia
Photo © 2009 Toby Hudson CC BY-SA

Just a quick note: I’ve been busy busy busy preparing to give a talk at tomorrow’s Boston.PM tech meeting, on my experiences with Perl 6:

Tuesday December 10, 2013
7:30 PM
at MIT E51-376

We’ll be exploring:

  • Perl 6′s suitability for “production.” (Your definition may vary.)
  • Experiences of the state and stability of Rakudo.
  • Benchmarks of my favorite P6 features.
  • Lines of P6 code from everyday life.
  • Some comparisons of P6 with P5.

Directions to Boston.PM meetings at the Boston.PM website.


P.S. RSVP for count encouraged but not required, to or Boston-PM list, by 3pm Tuesday.

P.P.S. I’m planning to post the slides in some form. Stay tuned to this blog.

Share a Little Good News This Thanksgivukkah

Just wanted to wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful Hanukkah.

In a series of studies published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, study participants were more satisfied with their lives if they shared good news at least twice a week, with someone who responded positively to the good news.

So take an occasional moment this holiday season to share the good things in your life with those around you.

Happy Thanksgivukkah!


NaNoWriMo Progress Sheet

Social Media Information Overload, ©2012 Mark Smiciklas CC BY-NC 2.0

NaNoWriMo begins the day after tomorrow. To control my progress, I’ve created a spreadsheet that dynamically recomputes, each day, how many words I need to write in order to stay on track.

This is a method I’ve used before, based on principles used to manage software projects. Because software projects have a lot in common with writing projects. Most notably, they’re both creative endeavors, and you never know at the beginning how the project is going to look at the end. A write could use any of the widely available Agile software-development project tools out there. But this is a lighter weight tool, a simple spreadsheet, which doesn’t have as many features, but I’ve found it sufficient for a one-person writing project (like a NaNoWriMo novel).

Here’s a link to my NaNoWriMo Progress Sheet (OpenOffice Calc), or in MS Excel format. (Right-click on the link, and save the file to your hard drive.)

Here’s how it looks:

 Click to continue »

Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year again!

Time to gear up for National Novel Writing Month. (Yes, that’s a thing.) More affectionately known as NaNoWriMo (rhymes with “Hwang Ho ice floe,” which is not an actual thing).

As you may know (which almost rhymes), NaNoWriMo is an annual event during which participants attempt to write 50,000 words during the month of November.

In the past, I’ve taken great pleasure in dissing NaNoWriMo. Because it’s a sprint, and serious writing is a marathon. Because it’s never worked for me to produce a novel, or even to motivate me to write something I did not want to write. Because it encourages writers to spew out tens of thousands (literally) of crummy words, rather than honing their style and focusing on the story they want to tell. Because I myself have never actually “won” NaNoWriMo, even that year that I drafted From the Ashes of Courage, because the story was complete at only 45K words.

Nonetheless, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. Or at least I’m going to give it a shot. Here’s my NaNoWriMo profile:  Click to continue »

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