The Political Philosophy of Dungeons And Dragons

What is the first rule of being a Dungeon Master who wants to enjoy a long campaign of Dungeons and Dragons with his friends? Maybe, “know the rules.” Maybe, “it’s about the players, not about you.” Not bad candidates. But there is another: Do not allow evil characters. Do not allow one evil character. Do not allow an entire party of evil characters. Why does every DM know this rule? … (Read More)

Luke 4:1

They stood alone in the deserts of West Texas, some of the cheapest, least useful, barren land in the continental United States not used for atomic testing. “We’ve expanded into China. We had to jump through some legal hoops. Technically, ‘we’ are a subsidiary that we own in joint partnership with someone’s nephew’s wife’s uncle. But, they won’t block our IPs anymore.” … (Read More)

Christmas Spring

It is Christmas Eve, and it’s not even noon. I’m sitting outside without a jacket, wearing a t-shirt. Welcome to Texas! We have a dozen little springs scattered throughout the winter. We associate Christmas with snow, but isn’t spring weather a better symbol of Christmas? We were in the winter of our sins, but here today a baby is born, ‘tis Christ the Lord. And here, in mid-winter, is a little burst of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descends, we take off all our armor against cold and sin and death, and we have coffee on the front porch. … (Read More)

The Spelling Bee

I live at the corner of Gibson and Parrish. “Parrish,” with an extra R that makes me wonder if there is some word I don’t know or if I really live next to an elementary school and at the corner of a misspelling. I’d call it a typo, but it’s not a slip of the finger. Or, if it is, it’s a slip of some secretary’s finger, recorded in the city records and in my street name forever. … (Read More)

Secular Christmas

Christmas is almost here. Decorating the tree is a study in human nature. I never want to go through the trouble. But, then I begin and it proceeds happily, and it is done. We turn on the tree lights, we turn off the house lights, and then there is peace. … (Read More)

A Thanksgiving Post

I began to write this in my notebook with the line “When I was young, every variation from linear progressive time was a nuisance.” And as soon as I wrote it, I realized it wasn’t true. To be young is to live an entire life in the grooves of cyclic time. Life is summers at Benbrook Lake, Thanksgiving, Christmas. The annual trip up to Dalhart which smells of horses. Cartoons on Saturday morning. The funny pages on Sunday afternoon. The favorite TV show Friday at 4. … (Read More)

Interviewing Programmers

We have discovered why it is actually so difficult to interview programmers. We want to know if they’ve acquired the thousand and one little lessons that add up to being good at this. And those lessons mostly consist of a sense for a good design versus a bad one, identifying the correct abstraction and the right data structure, and knowing when they have chosen poorly and how to fix it. … (Read More)

A Programming Allegory

Once, in the long, long ago, the prophet descended from the mountain. We called him Alan Kay, praise be upon his name. He told us the gospel of objects and the priests heard him, and the priests told the people, who had been suffering greatly. … (Read More)

Teaching programming

Someone on a social network asked the question “Is it possible to have 10 years experience in C#, .NET, jQuery, and SQL and still know less useful information than a coding bootcamp graduate.” It is very possible. Also very unlikely. … (Read More)

Pilgrims of a Shattered Spacetime

We don’t know what caused it, but the web was shorn ten years ago. Every life proceeded linearly as it always had, but the cords that bound them into synchronicity were severed. We continued on, as best we could. It didn’t change much. You may see a young woman on the subway wearing a sweater in July and see her again in a summer dress in February. Occasionally, you see more disturbing things. The priests and inquisitors ignore us and at first seem merely bizarre. Until I saw them descend on some failing penitent on their own strand. He must have violated some indiscernible discipline. Then they were all dead eyes. And hooks. Dead eyes and hooks everywhere like a nightmare vision of Ezekiel’s seraphim. I hope that future is distant. Or that timeline lies on some thread of the multiverse that we never travel down. … (Read More)

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