Jason Michael dot com

You don't owe me anything.

A Dream

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Last night I had the most amazing dream. This was the kind of dream that made you wake up with a big smile on your face, unaware of the traditional aches and pains of getting older, desperate to tell someone else. My wife and kids were getting ready to leave for school, but I had to stop my wife and give her a summary. Here’s what I dreamed:

Examine Assumptions

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I have recently deleted my Facebook account. I did so rather compulsively, following a disheartening exchange between myself and a band of Trump supporters regarding what liberals should do following the 2018 mid-term elections, which, at the time, I felt a bit of disappointment about. My favorite candidate, Beto O’Rourke failed to defeat the horrible Ted Cruz in a run for a US Senate seat in Texas. So, I posted as many others had, that Democrats need to steer the party to the left, and that working Americans no longer really felt akin to Democratic arguments. Many union members had voted for Trump in the last election, and I felt a need to reach out to them. But this was Facebook, and my Trump-supporting ‘friends’ took this as an opportunity to ridicule the left perspective, and plaster all over my page all sorts of idiotic memes chock full of propaganda culled from the deepest assholes of Russian bots. Ironically, as political observations go, I was even wrong in my reaction to the 2018 Blue Wave. The turnover of House seats in 2018 was the biggest in American history, according to Newsweek.

Much of what was splashed on my Facebook page that day was accusations that I hadn’t thought carefully enough about my politics. One never feels like they haven’t thought about something they believe, but be that as it may, I am willing to examine my liberal assumptions. However, I bet it’s going to be quite difficult. Any faithful attempt to examine one’s assumptions is like trying to rid your attic of rats. You can’t see all of them, and if you don’t get them all, you’ll have the same horde scratching in the dark in a few weeks. Rule of thumb on rat elimination is to control their methods of egress, i.e. block the holes they use to move in and out of your home, and set lots of traps. But this whole effort is rather hopeful. One can never know if you’ve gotten all the holes, and setting traps is rather like fishing. You try, and hope for success. Much in the same way, scraping your mind for assumptions is an abstract, asiprational exercise. It’s non-trivial to list all your assumptions at the start because it is unclear when you’re done. And of course, while you’re trapping them, you have to be sure new assumptions don’t slip in in secret. What a mess! Nevertheless, I’ll try.

Post script: I’m also noticing that many of these assumptions more resemble beliefs. Be that as it may…

Distant Voices

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In the current age of Internet interrelationships, where fewer and fewer people participate in fewer and fewer face-to-face interractions with other humans, (at least it seems that way from my perspective), we are seemingly living in a strikingly new world. It was in this world that I had a strange thought today. I was listening to The Majority Report podcast on YouTube, while sitting in my pajamas sipping coffee in the early morning. My family was still asleep.

Midterms 2018

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Our midterm elections came and went last Tuesday. In Texas, we all rallyed around Beto O’Rourke for US Senate, but our hopes were dashed as the reptile Ted Cruz won by about 220,000 votes (around 2.6%). It was doubly disappointing because, where I live in Tarrant County, we saw so many Beto yard signs and bumper stickers, and we could easily see a blue wave rising up. Everybody around us seemed to be of one mind: It’s time for the Tea Party to Go! Unfortunately, we failed to reach everyone, apparently. Tarrant and Dallas counties both went for Beto, as did every big city in Texas: Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, but rural voters carried Cruz over the finish line. Ted Cruz being the most hated man in politics notwithstanding, he remains our Senator for six more terrible years.

How Can a Skeptic Deal With Death?

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I am not currently dealing with any grief, I have not recently lost anyone close to me. My dad died 2 years ago last month, and I guess that still stings a bit. But I have been thinking a bit lately about how skeptics can deal with the loss of a loved one without the comfortable illusions of the Bosom of Abraham or the afterlife, etc. Musing on this one day, and completely out of the blue, I wondered, do I think that Harry Potter is dead? Obviously, Hary Potter never existed in any real sense, however I personally know a lot of details about his life because I have read stories about him and I enjoyed those stories. I think fondly about Harry Potter, and I remember him in a positive way and perhaps I always will. His essence is locked in my mind in a quiet place. Memories of Harry Potter can still bring a smile to my face.

AWSome Lambda!

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I have been working in DevOps the past year, even if my blog has given no indication that I’ve been doing anything at all. Lately, I’ve been working on building a monitoring system for a coporate IT wad of crap (mostly Microsoft bullshit), where you can’t get TCP ingress or egress without a court order, so you gotta be creative. Essentially the system is a client-server architecture where (normally) a client sits on a server, runs a pre-defined list of checks on the server (like disc space checks or memory checks), and reports back to the server via a TCP connection (https POST). But since we can’t get the client visibility to the server in a different network, we need some way of communicating. These servers are managed by HPE, and let me tell you, HPE has devolved a lot since Hewlett and Packard were silly-walking around silicon valley with their cloth shirts with dark ties and slacks and matching pocket protectors and slide rules.