The Kenny Rogers Rule states: When building anything, especially something as complicated as a robot, the build can sometimes turn ugly. If you try and just power your way through, you can often dig yourself into an even deeper hole. Frustrations can mount, and with it, mistakes, even accidents can happen. So here’s what you do: “Put the soldering iron down, Poindexter. Step away from the steaming robot entrails!” You’ll be amazed at what an hour away, vegging in front of the TV, rolling around on the floor with the cat, or sleeping on your problem will do. It almost never fails. Here’s a corollary: The extent to which you don’t want to drop what you’re doing and take a break (“I know I can fix this, damn it!”), is inversely proportional to the extent to which you need to take that break. Why is it called the Kenny Rogers Rule? ‘Cause as country Kenny wisely tells us: “You got to know when to hold, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run…”
Laid bare was the scum, algae and rocks, making up the foundation and guts of the vessel. Exposed, for all to see. Similarly, this is how I feel about who we are and what we do and this world we live in. On the surface, we can look fantastic — smooth, calm and at our best. But at our essence is a complex ecosystem and environment that let us present the version of us, our work or our lives, that we want everyone else to experience.
I’ve noticed a common thread among people jumping into the deep end of speaking at our meetup. They’d often start their talks with “I’m not the most qualified person to speak on this topic,” or “I’m sure you guys are all smarter than me.”
In response, I decided to give a talk about Impostor Syndrome.
Check out this great presentation on Impostor Syndrome given by Zach Leatherman.
“The programmer, who needs clarity, who must talk all day to a machine that demands declarations, hunkers down into a low-grade annoyance. It is here that the stereotype of the programmer, sitting in a dim room, growling from behind Coke cans, has its origins. The disorder of the desk, the floor; the yellow Post-It notes everywhere; the whiteboards covered with scrawl: all this is the outward manifestation of the messiness of human thought. The messiness cannot go into the program; it piles up around the programmer.”
Ellen Ullman, Close to the Machine: Technophilia and its Discontents (1997), p. 23
via Life and Code.
I believe local journalism, local government and local economies are the linchpins of a vibrant, healthy nation. For decades, as conglomerates swallowed up independent news outlets across the nation (our own local paper, Bay News, is owned by News Corp. – the same company that owns Fox News and the New York Post, for example), local coverage was watered down because community reporting is expensive, and stockholders want dividends. And because corporations can view employees as easily replaceable cogs, one reporter who lives in the community and has covered it for decades is just as valuable as one straight out of journalism school three states over.
But community reporting requires more than cogs. It requires more than an academic familiarity of those it covers. What meaningful local reporting requires is a personal investment. If the reporter doesn’t stand to benefit from a healthy community, his coverage will serve to dramatize and exacerbate problems rather than solve them.
When Sheepshead Bites ventures to cover the community, we do it because we’re neighbors. Our writers live here. Our business is based here. And we endeavor to support and uplift our neighbors for all of our benefit.
Our reporting sees results. When we complain about garbage, it gets cleaned up. When we question politicians, they endeavor to meet our concerns. When we cry to the city that Sheepshead deserves more – well, we’re still waiting to see about that one. This alone makes the site a worthwhile exercise, because, to me, the significance of one’s aspirations is only measurable by how much it helps others. Not to get preachy, but a preacher’s quote is especially applicable here: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” (That’d be Martin Luther King, Jr., by the way.)
“Believe in your fucking self. Stay up all fucking night. Work outside of your fucking habits. Know when to fucking speak up. Fucking collaborate. Don’t fucking procrastinate. Get over your fucking self. Keep fucking learning. Form follows fucking function. A computer is a Lite-Brite for bad fucking ideas. Find fucking inspiration everywhere. Fucking network. Educate your fucking client. Trust your fucking gut. Ask for fucking help. Make it fucking sustainable. Question fucking everything. Have a fucking concept. Learn to take some fucking criticism. Make me fucking care. Use fucking spell check. Do your fucking research. Sketch more fucking ideas. The problem contains the fucking solution. Think about all the fucking possibilities.”
My current theory is that programming is quite literally writing. The vast majority of programming is not conceptually difficult (contrary to what a lot of people would have you believe). We only make it difficult because we suck at writing. The vast majority of programmers aren’t fluent, and don’t even have a desire to be fluent. They don’t read other people’s code. They don’t recognise or use idioms. They don’t think *in the programming language*. Most code sucks because we have the fluency equivalent of 3 year olds trying to write a novel. And so our programs are needlessly complex.
Those programmers with a “spark” are programmers who have an innate talent for the language. Or they are people who have read and read and read code. Or both. We teach programming wrong. We teach it the way Japanese teachers have been teaching English. We teach about programming and expect that students will spontaneously learn to write from this collection of facts.
“is a space ship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe, a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you—and most of all, a gateway, to a better and happier and more useful life.”