Background

Why is anybody surprised that Trump is a racist?

I was asked this question today by a co-worker, “It’s obvious that he’s a huge racist, why is anybody surprised by this?”

And I had to think about that for a few minutes. I feel like I have an answer.

You see, Americans thought that with the election (and RE-election) of Obama, that American society had reached some kind of racial tipping point. There were still racist and bigots in society (all societies generate them), but that they were now in the definite minority. American society wasn’t exactly post-racial, but it was definitely on the correct side of the moral arc, we were getting better.

The events in Charlottesville was a shock to the system, a clear indication that racists were not only still around, but gaining confidence and power under the Trump administration. All of those dog whistles during the election cycle have turned into foghorns and Trump is showing his bigotry for all to see. Equivocating nazis and KKK members with those that oppose them (Trump’s statement that there was violence and hatred on both sides) shows just how far America still has to go on their journey to racial equality, and it was painful.

Most of the estimates I had seen about the future put American hegemony failing around the year 2030. I think Trump’s administration has accelerated that decline. American power is only partially based on its military might. Diplomacy and Economic power were the other pillars and Trump is undermining them so fast it’s hard to imagine that it’s just an accident. By leaving the State Department largely empty and abrogating international agreements just because he ‘can’, Trump is destroying the basis of America’s greatest powerbase. By attacking the education that is the basis for future innovation (both military and economic), Trump is weakening America’s foundation for the future.

I feel sick.

 

 

Trump Predictions – How am I doing so far?

At the end of November 2016, I made some predictions. Let’s see how I did:

  1. Short term measures to boost the economy. Hitler did this by going into massive government spending on the military. Since the USA already HAS the largest military and budget, he will probably have to come up with some other public works to provide this boost. Expect massive infrastructure projects, they will be riddled with corruption, but that’s a good thing, from Trump’s perspective. Corrupt officials are *owned* officials and putting money into his own pockets and the pockets of his buddies will make them more loyal.

Verdict: 50/50

Trump has, indeed, made a PROPOSAL to increase Military spending, despite my belief that the US military is already ridiculously bloated. Infrastructure projects? Nope. Corruption, oh yes, and more every day. He’s literally making money by making the government rent property from him.

2. Hitler’s generals tried to assassinate him, several times, because they understood what a monster he was. So, President Trump will need to get rid of or replace any military leaders who disagree with him or are not loyal enough. He has to solidify his power base and getting rid of the only power that could directly oppose him (who have sworn to uphold the constitution that he will shortly be tearing into little pieces) is high on his list.

Verdict: Bingo!

Firing the head of the FBI for investigating his (and his election’s) ties to Russia. Not filling hundreds (literally, HUNDREDS) of functional positions in federal departments. Forcing goddamn LOYALTY OATHS on national television. Called it.

3. Hitler had to burn down his parliament to cut out that opposition to his power base. Trump has an advantage here because Congress is already ineffectual and he will get to appoint 1 to 3 Supreme Court Justices, these won’t even be a speed bump for him. As an act, President Trump will appoint ineffectual or personally loyal people to law enforcement positions.

Verdict: Smell that? That’s Accuracy.

4. Be a rock star. Hitler was glowingly portrayed in news articles around the world before the start of WWII, there was a lot of support for him in the USA as well. Hitler hired amazing fashion designers (Hugo Boss) to create the uniforms of his SS, commissioned cool affordable cars (the Volkswagen), and staged huge public spectacles (Nazi rallies and the Olympic Games, not that these are synonymous). Trump is already all geared up for this, his rallies and performances are going to be huuuuuge. He just needs to keep 51% of the white, mostly poor, populace entertained, something he has proven very capable of doing. Expect a lot of spectacle and braggadocio.

Verdict: Trump is less cool than Hitler

I thought Trump would be better at keeping up the act, but there have been reports of him getting pissed off at the news and screaming at people like a petulant child. Trump isn’t cool, on any level. I missed this one.

5. As a budding supreme leader, he needs to get a handle on the media and make those nay-sayers and critics shut up. The USA already has some experience here, they just need to reinstate some of the machinery put in place for the cold war like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and rampant internal spying by the FBI against ‘enemies of the state’. [Newt Gingrich has already started the process on starting up the HUAC again.] Also, he needs to threaten journalists with lawsuits and prison for disagreeing with him. [also, already started]

Verdict: Meh.

I didn’t see the whole ‘fake news’ thing coming, or Kellyanne Conway. Just didn’t see that direction at all. Just straight up not holding White house briefings is just so over the top. And the Twitter, what an embarrassing shit storm that turned out to be. Missed this one, I thought he would be smarter than this. I didn’t think Trump was just straight up stupid, but I was wrong.

6. Ramp up the fear factor, people who are scared will give up their freedom for some extra (perceived) security. Hitler did it with the “international jewish conspiracy” and the communists. Trump will do it with Muslims and terrorism.

Verdict: He tried.

He is trying, really hard, but it turns out that he is so bad at diplomacy that he is making new and fresh enemies all over the place. So, he is striking out with his angle on terrorism, but he is winning when it comes to our deteriorating relationship with the rest of the world.

7. He will need to be selective in who he targets. Trump will need to make sure he only targets minorities, he will focus on non-Christians that’s the only explanation for selecting someone like Mike Pence to be his VP. He will need to make sure that anything bad that happens gets pinned on one of those groups and make sure that they are portrayed as evil at every turn.

Verdict: A MISS.

None of this happened.

8. Trump will surround himself with people who agree with him and are loyal to him, personally. He has promised to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington, D.C. but any rational observer sees that his cabinet appointments are straight up alligators and water snakes. His selection criteria has nothing to do with ‘good for the country’ or ‘good at the job’, the only thing that matters to Trump is Personal Loyalty, you know, like a demagogue. If he stays true to form, Trump’s crimes will make the Teapot Dome scandal look like a stolen Snickers bar.

Verdict: BING BING BING!

The opposition to Trump has to get off of the sexism and racism angle, those don’t matter to his power base. They should have attacked his criminal behavior and incompetence.

More true than I realized

The biggest (unpublished) prediction I made was that I really thought (hoped) that impeachment proceedings would have started in June 2017. He’s done enough to BE impeached, but I have no hope for the end of my country’s continuing embarrassment.

Thank you, Felix Geerinckx

I spent 2 hours trying to fix a tricky MySQL database issue today. A full partition, unable to dump and restore, symbolic links not working, aptitude trying to delete everything . . ..

Well, it was just stressful.

And then I was able to find a post from 2005 written by a man named Felix Geerinckx. It solved my problems and all is well in my world again. (the post in question: https://forums.mysql.com/read.php?51,52107,52111#msg-52111)

So OVERWHELMED WITH GRATITUDE, I tried to send this internet stranger a quick ‘thank you’ for this 12 year old post.

Can’t find him. He is, or was, a pretty steady contributor to the MySQL forums, but I cannot find any email addresses or public forums where I can send him a message. So I am doing it here.

Thank you, Felix Geerinckx. You have made my world a better place and I want you to know I appreciate it.

-Richard

Trump-edy Trump Trump Trump

I have been seeing a lot of traffic in my social media about how Donald Trump is the new Hitler, a demagogue comes to power on a message of nationalism and racial purity. As a fan of history, I decided to compile a list of things to watch for if this is true, an objective list of actions that will be visible to everyone. If he keeps following the Hitler playbook, we can look forward to the following acts:

  1. Short term measures to boost the economy. Hitler did this by going into massive government spending on the military. Since the USA already HAS the largest military and budget, he will probably have to come up with some other public works to provide this boost. Expect massive infrastructure projects, they will be riddled with corruption, but that’s a good thing, from Trump’s perspective. Corrupt officials are *owned* officials and putting money into his own pockets and the pockets of his buddies will make them more loyal.
  2. Hitler’s generals tried to assassinate him, several times, because they understood what a monster he was. So, President Trump will need to get rid of or replace any military leaders who disagree with him or are not loyal enough. He has to solidify his power base and getting rid of the only power that could directly oppose him (who have sworn to uphold the constitution that he will shortly be tearing into little pieces) is high on his list.
  3. Hitler had to burn down his parliament to cut out that opposition to his power base. Trump has an advantage here because Congress is already ineffectual and he will get to appoint 1 to 3 Supreme Court Justices, these won’t even be a speed bump for him. As an act, President Trump will appoint ineffectual or personally loyal people to law enforcement positions.
  4. Be a rock star. Hitler was glowingly portrayed in news articles around the world before the start of WWII, there was a lot of support for him in the USA as well. Hitler hired amazing fashion designers (Hugo Boss) to create the uniforms of his SS, commissioned cool affordable cars (the Volkswagen), and staged huge public spectacles (Nazi rallies and the Olympic Games, not that these are synonymous). Trump is already all geared up for this, his rallies and performances are going to be huuuuuge. He just needs to keep 51% of the white, mostly poor, populace entertained, something he has proven very capable of doing. Expect a lot of spectacle and braggadocio.
  5. As a budding supreme leader, he needs to get a handle on the media and make those nay-sayers and critics shut up. The USA already has some experience here, they just need to reinstate some of the machinery put in place for the cold war like the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and rampant internal spying by the FBI against ‘enemies of the state’. [Newt Gingrich has already started the process on starting up the HUAC again.] Also, he needs to threaten journalists with lawsuits and prison for disagreeing with him. [also, already started]
  6. Ramp up the fear factor, people who are scared will give up their freedom for some extra (perceived) security. Hitler did it with the “international jewish conspiracy” and the communists. Trump will do it with Muslims and terrorism.
  7. He will need to be selective in who he targets. Trump will need to make sure he only targets minorities, he will focus on non-Christians that’s the only explanation for selecting someone like Mike Pence to be his VP. He will need to make sure that anything bad that happens gets pinned on one of those groups and make sure that they are portrayed as evil at every turn.
  8. Trump will surround himself with people who agree with him and are loyal to him, personally. He has promised to ‘drain the swamp’ of Washington, D.C. but any rational observer sees that his cabinet appointments are straight up alligators and water snakes. His selection criteria has nothing to do with ‘good for the country’ or ‘good at the job’, the only thing that matters to Trump is Personal Loyalty, you know, like a demagogue. If he stays true to form, Trump’s crimes will make the Teapot Dome scandal look like a stolen Snickers bar.

There are some differences, Trump isn’t using amphetamines and doesn’t have any military experience. I don’t think Trump actually HAS any significant goals, maybe he’s just trying to get to a point where he has his name on every school and park in America in great big gold-colored letters.

No, the real danger of Trump isn’t his ambitions, he doesn’t want to rule the world or create an empire that lasts a thousand years. The real danger of Trump is that he does not seem to realize that peace between nations is HARD WORK that requires diplomacy and constant effort. Anyone how has read Kagan (Kagan, Donald. (1995). On the Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-42374-8.) knows that the ground state of relations between nations is war, peace is hard and I don’t think Trump knows how to do that. He will break long standing relationships, he will alienate allies, he will create an international power vacuum that others will step in to. His lack of experience and insight will destabilize the world, and he won’t care. (Or he might welcome the possibilities of wars, who knows? War can be good spectacle!)

The opposition to Trump has to get off of the sexism and racism angle, those don’t matter to his power base. They should have attacked his criminal behavior and incompetence. I think if the Democrats actually address THOSE parts of Trump’s administration, they will have a chance of deposing him during the next election cycle. Sexism and Racism will be there, yes. They will be bad, yes. They WILL NOT MATTER to his power base, corruption and criminality DO. They hated Hillary because they saw her as being corrupt and getting away with it. Trump didn’t say that Hillary was not qualified, he said that she was corrupt and a criminal. This was very much the pot calling the kettle black, but the Democrats didn’t make this clear to the electorate and lost.

Facebook::OpenGraph – logging in to a Perl application

Getting a Perl application to talk to the Facebook API was not an enjoyable experience, mostly due to my lack of experience with Facebook’s terminology and a basic understanding of how OAuth works.

Ignorance never stops me! So when I wanted to allow visitors to log in to my Perl application via Facebook, I just started hacking away until I got everything working. I am scheduled to give a talk about this at the 2016 Dutch Perl Workshop, you can download the Presentation PDF.

My notes:

Install the Furl::HTTP and Facebook::OpenGraph modules.

Register the your application with Facebook to get your App ID and App Secret.

I broke this process up into two scripts, a ‘login’ script that acts as a landing page for incoming visitors and the application itself. The login script is going to catch the incoming request and immediately forward the visitor to the Facebook authorization page with a callback pointed at the program (index.cgi).

use Furl::HTTP;
use Facebook::OpenGraph; 
use strict;
use CGI;
my $q = new CGI;
   $q->autoEscape(0);
   $q->charset('utf8');
my $fb = Facebook::OpenGraph->new(+{
      version => 'v2.5'
    , app_id => '1234567890123456' 
    , secret => '2b6928c1283475f434a54bf45371'
    , ua => Furl::HTTP->new(capture_request => 1)
    , json => JSON->new->utf8
    , redirect_uri => 'http://applicationwebsite.com/app/index.cgi'
    });
 
my $auth_url = $fb->auth_uri(+{
       display => 'page' 
     , response_type => 'code'
     , scope => [qw/email/]
    });
print "Content-type: text/html\n\n";
print $q->redirect($auth_url);
exit;

This script takes an incoming visitor and generates an authorization URL for Facebook and then redirects the visitor directly to that Authorization URL. The ‘scope’ of my app is only asking for basic user information, no special permissions are being requested. If I wanted other, more esoteric, user information I would need to ask for specific approval to access that information.

You can see how to decode the information that gets sent to the callback URL, refer to the contents of the Presentation PDF.

 

Burnout is affecting younger people

A recent study by the Dutch organization TNO showed that 15% of workers are suffering from burnout symptoms. In the Netherlands, alone, that’s more than a million people.

I was not surprised by that finding, the vast majority of people who take the Octogram test are looking for ways to get out from under the crushing weight of their “Career”. They can see that work doesn’t *have* to suck, everyone has at least a few friends who actually like their job, so they know it’s possible to have a better career.

The surprising part of the study highlighted the age distribution of the respondents. Burnout isn’t just a risk for people in the middle of their careers, they were showing a relatively high level of problems for younger people in the 25 to 35 year old range.

Traditionally, people were to focused on spending their younger years trying to get ahead in their career without really thinking about whether or not they were in the right kind of career. That’s changing because millennials are looking for meaning and purpose in their work right out of the gate. I have been seeing some negative commentary and stereotyping about this in HR and Management discussion boards. It’s easy to minimize someone’s complaint by calling them ‘whiners’ or some such.

But the millenials are not just complaining that work is ‘too hard’, they are complaining when their work has no meaning. Everyone comes to that realization at some time during their career, they want to have work that is fulfilling and worth something. Millenials just seem to be figuring this out earlier than my own Generation X. We just rebelled without knowing what we were complaining about, Millenials just seem to be ahead of the curve.

Damn whipper-snappers!

The TNO study results are summarized here:
http://www.monitorarbeid.tno.nl/nieuws/asscher-praat-met-collegas-over-werkstress (Dutch)

You are a closed book

Experimental research (by Vazire, Newton, Yudowsky, Gilovich, Medvec and Savitsky to name just a few) has shown that you overestimate how much other people know about you, how much attention they pay to you, how much they can tell about what is going on in your head.

They don’t know what is going on in your head.

But that’s okay, because neither do you.

You overestimate your own abilities in areas were you know too little. You underestimate your expertise in areas where you are an expert (Dunning-Kruger effect). You are chock-a-block with bias and false impressions and errors in perception.

That is what the Talent Profile is good at doing. It uses a powerful psychometric instrument that slips past your own cognitive blocks to figure out what really makes you tick. It gives you a solid book of instructions on how to drive your own career. It tells you how to keep yourself interested and focused at work. It tells you where the pitfalls are and points out how to get around them.