The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

North Carolina breaks the tape

North Carolina executed the 1,000th person since the U.S. reinstated capital punishment in 1976, putting us 1,000 ahead of our friends and allies in the contest to become the most barbarous democracy on earth.

I don't have time at the moment to go over the problems with the death penalty, except to note that the Jeanine Nicarico case is back in the newspapers in Chicago. The man most likely responsible for Nicarico's murder is finally on trial for it 20 years after a man who couldn't possibly have killed her was sentenced to death for the crime.

There are myriad reasons why no other country in the OECD still kills its prisoners, reasons I will articulate in future posts. For now, though, let me reflect on the passing of this milestone, and sigh.

Source-control etiquette


Any software project that has more than one developer working on it needs to have some way of ensuring that there is one and only one "official" version of the code. This is called source control, for which teams use tools like Microsoft SourceSafe and Rational ClearCase.

In the land of myth and legend, the code checked in to source control is ready to roll. Checking something in that doesn't work, or that prevents other parts of the software project from working, is called "breaking the build." On some teams breaking the build results in the offending developer working late, suffering humiliation from his peers, or having Vinny come by and break his knuckles.

Adhering to this discipline allows developers to join the team, get the latest copy of the code, and start working on it. Failing to adhere to this disicipline causes anguish, frustration, and despair.

That is all.


Predicted effect of global warming cools Europe

New Scientist is reporting this hour on findings published today in the journal Nature, showing a 30% reduction in warm-water flows in the Atlantic Gulf Stream. This is a long-predicted effect of global warming, similar to changes in the flow that may have caused the so-called "mini ice-age" of the 14th and 15th centuries—and the major ice age of 110,000 years ago.

Not to be alarmist or anything, but this news is the climatic equivalent of seeing fifteen "for sale" signs on your block. It shows that something is very, very wrong, and the effects will be very, very bad. Think: ice skating straight across the Thames from the London Eye to Westminster. Think: Western Ireland under three feet of snow. Think: Madrid with Denver's climate.

Think I'm exaggerating? Nature is, after all, an alarmist publication. And New Scientist is only repeating the party line. You've got to be skeptical of the evidence-based community, you know.

Look, we've known for decades that we were influencing the climate. Journalist James Burke talked about exactly this happening in his 1991 miniseries After the Warming. Only, he speculated the slowdown happening in 2050, not 1995.

I've always thought global warming would benefit Chicago, even as it punished cities like Edinburgh. I just didn't think it would happen in my lifetime.

(Why the sheep? He's in Western Ireland, and he's cute, and ten years from now his descendants will be glad they have wool coats.)

Tropical storm Epsilon

The National Hurricane Center just a few minutes ago released this report:


For those of you keeping score at home, this means we've seen 7 more named storms than the previous record (19, in 1995), and 5 more than the record for all tropical storms and hurricanes in a season (21, in 1933), since we started keeping track in 1851.

Now, the NHC admits the evidence doesn't fully support a link between global warming and storm frequency, but the hypothesis supporting the connection continues to gain evidence. Evidence like, for example, the most intense tropical storm season on record, including the only known tropical cyclone ever to reach Europe (Vince, October 11th).

Aren't you glad the best President we have right decided to make us the only Industrial country to refuse the Kyoto Protocol?

Anne cancelled our J. Crew card

Anne writes:

I told the credit card woman that it was because I was boycotting J. Crew because they sell fur. She actually had the nerve to say, "I can assure you that the fur that we sell comes from reputable breeders and not from animal destruction."
I think that was off-script, huh? I just said, "I think by definition it comes from animal destruction."
I encourage everyone who is getting J. Crew's catalogs to call (800) 562-0258 and ask to be taken off their lists--and be sure to tell them why.

I didn't even know we had a J. Crew card...

Also on my reading stack

I just finished Garbage Land, leaving only about a dozen books on my reading stack right now. Highlights:

Why is this in the Software category? Because better wetware means better software.

It's important to read widely in order to write better, whether your language is English or C#. Read as much as you can, about anything that interests you. Limit your professional reading to 50% of your total no matter what (but shoot for 25%). The more you know about things outside your profession, the more you can bring to the profession, whether it's software or anything else.

California Coastal Commission

The owners of this property in Carmel, Calif., wanted to build a starter castle. The California Coastal Commission generally doesn't allow new building in coastal communities, especially ugly starter castles. So the dude decided to "remodel" his existing home:

Apparently, this fits the definition of "remodeling" in Monterey County, believe it or not. The CCC, however, required him to take 4 m (12.5 ft) off the top of his proposed refit, so it will wind up being only 3 stories tall.

Gotta draw the line somewhere, I guess.