Happy 70 years to The Hobbit

Just read on Wired that The Hobbit was first released 70 years ago today. That book and Tolkien’s world at large have captured my imagination since childhood. Couldn’t let this occasion pass without making note of it.

As the nostaliga set in, I found myself on Google, which led me to the official Tokien site. To my surprise, it’s showing a new release, The Children of Húrin! This is apparently from the first age of Middle Earth, the time prior to The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings. Can’t wait to get a copy of this!

8 Things About Me

OK, so a friend at Poor Young Things has “tagged” me in this blogosphere incarnation of a chain letter. In the interest of playing along, here goes. But first, in keeping with the rules of being tagged, here are “The Rules”™.

Here are the Rules:

  1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
  2. Players start with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
  3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog (about their 8 things) and post these rules. (**if you’re a non-blogger, you can e-mail them!)
  4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose 8 people to tag and list their names.
  5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them, “you’re tagged, now go read my blog.”

8 Things About Me

  1. I really like being a dad. I have known I wanted to be a dad since I was 6, and it has not been disappointing. It’s very challenging and takes alot out of me, but it is just one of the coolest things I have ever experienced.
  2. I am exceptionally introverted. Shocks lots of people who know me, but yep, but big crowds and lots of interaction are actually an energy sink for me, not an energy source.
  3. I love playing World of Warcraft. I missed the whole paper RPG thing growing up (grew up Baptist, Dungeons & Dragons was of the devil; bright side is that gives me +10 Charisma), but looks like I probably would have loved it. I have to limit my play time or I’d probably never get anything done.
  4. I am partially colorblind. Many guys have some degree of colorblindness; but mine became more pronounced after LASIK surgery. The red/green/brown realms are the ones that can challenge me most. What’s hilarious is how people react to hearing that; they start pointing out crap like “now that Falcons jersey there is red”; good God, people.
  5. I am an industrial adhesives and marking guru. Yep, apprenticed under my dad for over 10 years in that industry. That’s the career field I left to go into software development. The principles from that field that translate over to software are surprisingly high; I should blog about that sometime.
  6. I am country. As in from the country. Country as 3 rows of okra. And proud of it. It’s so hilarious to hear people who grew up in suburbia scoff at me having grown up in the country. A rural setting is way-the-hell more real than suburbia. Real life is not strip malls, soccer camp, and processed food. Seeing the cycle of birth, life, and death is real life. Doing manual labor on a farm to produce food is real life. Learning to hunt is real life. The lack of ethnic diversity did suck, though.
  7. I both dislike and do not understand most team sports. Played American football as a kid and some of high school; did not understand it. Faked it the whole time. Ran around enthusiastically until they blew the whistle. I still wonder exactly what the hell a post pattern is. Have had basketball and baseball explained to me several times; still don’t get it. Don’t want to; will probably have a son who loves it, at which point I’ll have to re-enroll in remedial sports comprehension.
  8. A military-style flat top haircut is the hairstyle I have worn the longest throughout my life. That surprises some people, since I have a ponytail now.

I hereby tag u8ashark, dianne marsh, mike levin, bruce eckel, mark ramm, james ward, brian panulla, and ben geyer. Let’s hear it; 8 things.

Java and the prodigal son syndrome

Ever hear the parable of the prodigal son? If you have had any length of exposure to the Christian New Testament, the answer is probably yes. It’s this one parable Jesus shared, captured in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 15, verses 11-32. A depressingly large contingent of the Java™ community shares some annoying similarities to that prodigal son.

The parable is actually about two sons, not just the one who ran off with his share of the inheritance and blew it. There’s also an older son, who was always a good worker and didn’t run off. When you hear someone speak about this parable they usually point out how he’s bitter that the family celebrates when the kid who blew half of everything finally returns home, and that you shouldn’t be that way, et cetera.

A friend of mine once pointed out to me this subtlety; only the father comes out to speak with the older son. The younger son, who has just received this abundantly merciful treatment by the father, makes no gesture to come out and reconcile with the older son. He has quickly forgotten what it was like to be the alienated one. My friend John called that the “prodigal son syndrome”; I think of it often when I listen to and/or read reactions of Java ™ programmers to…just about anything other than Java™.

For those in the “Java™ will never cease to flourish” camp, recall some of the scoffing you experienced back in the early period of Java™’s adoption, the jeers from the C++, C, and maybe even COBOL camp, depending upon the nature of the shop you were in. Now, take those scoffs and perform a search-and-replace:

s/Java™/{Ruby,Rails,Python,etc.}/ && s/{C,C++,COBOL}/Java™/.

Listen to yourself when you respond to topics like Ruby on Rails. The resemblance is unsettling, don’t you think? Why must everything new (or non-Java, really; newness isn’t even a condition most of the time) be rejected out-of-hand as inferior and “a fad”? The unwillingness to acknowledge (much less embrace) the strengths of alternatives to Java™ ironically serve to undermine your puerile assertion that Java™ is the be-all, end-all in programming.

The ardent defensiveness in the Java™ community’s response to Bruce Tate’s Beyond Java™ awhile back is an example of what I am talking about. I’m too busy these days to catalog some of the shining examples from java.net and TheServerSide. But good grief, people, drop it already! And don’t be embittered when you’re overrun by the changes you continually dismiss as inferior to Java ™. There’s an open cubicle down by that grumpy COBOL guy; maybe you two can commiserate.

NOTE: Apologies in advance to the sed crowd for my cruddy syntax above.