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w/e 2022-03-26

I had the first real feeling of spring yesterday, when the sun was out and there was the smell of fresh-cut grass after our groundsperson (Mary) fired up the mower for the first cut of the year.

This also means that the season has begun for having to chase the squirrels off the birds’ peanut feeder. This has been made more fun – if not more effective – by a birthday present of a Nerf gun (thanks T&J!). Obviously, the first time I ran out of the house growling, brandishing this blue and orange weapon, chasing a trespassing squirrel, was the exact moment some neighbours drove past in their rugged old Land Rover Defender. Hi!

The frogspawn in our little pond has now resulted in tadpoles, at least some of which are definitely alive. I also saw my first ever newt in the same pond which, apparently, might eat the tadpoles but 🤷🏻‍♂️. Newts seem cooler than frogs? I don’t know.

Despite me wondering if the very cold weather a while back would harm the goldfish in the big pond, they have flourished. I counted almost sixty of them lounging near the surface in the sunshine the other day, which feels like an unsustainable number.

§ My best listen of the week was Lylla’s mix on Wednesday’s NTS Early Bird Show w/ Spirit Blue & Lylla full of “traditional and contemporary Persian music – including parts of her late grandmother’s extensive cassette collection”. Starts at 53:20. A wonderful, gentle start to the day.

§ Not a very productive week here. I made a little progress with some stuff related to differentiating blogs based on their frequency of posting. It’s an imprecise metric – frequency of posting over what period of time? – which makes it a little tricky in places, but will be useful.

I also did a little bit of work. If you ever think, “This code is so clear it doesn’t need any comments!” check with me and I’ll tell you what it’s like to try and fix odd behaviour in someone else’s sprawling collection of decade-old JavaScript files, that rely on several little-used and often now obsolete libraries, none of which include a single comment.

I had a brief video chat with a guy who got in touch because he’s a Ruby on Rails developer who needs to do some Django, and wanted to ask some questions. It was fun! I’m not the most advanced Django dev – I rarely do anything that’s especially complex or requires obscure knowledge – but I’ve been working with it a long time and like to keep up with the sensible, most common, ways of doing things. So I think I was helpful even if only to confirm things like, “yes, that is the best way of doing this,” and, “you’re not wrong, Python packaging is still a complete mess of competing tools.”

It made me think more video chats might be nice, whether helping people with Django or something else. But I also hesitate because given how many people asking for help on r/django obviously can’t even be bothered to google before asking their entire, incoherent, question in the very long title of their post, I wonder if I have the patience for the people who apparently need the most help.

§ We watched The Gold (on iPlayer) this week which was fun. The performances seemed quite varied in style but, on the other hand, maybe that’s just… how varied people are? And there’s some very over-worked and over-polished dialogue, crammed with Important Feelings, that must be hard to try and deliver naturally. e.g. a new couple gazing into each others’ eyes over glasses of champagne:

Him: We should go to France. And we shouldn’t hurry back.
Her: Would we be running away from something?
Him: We’re all running from something.
Her: Hm. Feels like you’ve been running for a long time.
Him: Then I must be good at it.
Her: What’s the secret?
Him: Knowing when to go.

I know TV dialogue is rarely “realistic” but sometimes it pushes credulity a little too far. But otherwise, good fun.

I’m always wary of docu-dramas because I worry they’ll populate my brain with a made-up version of what actually happened. So we next watched the documentary The Gold: The Inside Story to get straight what was actually true. A surprising amount of it!

The documentary’s main awkwardness was that even in this it was impossible to tell which bits were “real” or not. Some of the shots were obviously contemporary footage from police or TV cameras. Some were obviously modern recreations. And some were… probably modern recreations, but it was frequently hard to tell.

I imagine Ofcom have more important issues to deal with but if I was them I’d enforce a rule that documentaries must include on-screen details of the origin of all footage. Otherwise, why not just watch the more entertaining drama-doc?

§ We then watched Waco: American Apocalypse (on Netflix) which was even worse in that regard. There was a lot of obviously from-the-moment video but also a lot of stuff that may or may not have been re-creations or entirely CGI. I was kind of shocked how much fakery these “factual” shows can get away with, with zero indication of how any of it’s done.

Aside from that it wasn’t a great series. It’d be hard to make an un-interesting documentary about Waco, so it has that, but it was was exhaustingly over-the-top. You know the bits they put in the first few minutes of documentaries where they rapid-cut between upcoming bits of the show, like a trailer for what you’re about to watch? The entire show was like that, cutting quickly between real or faked footage, and interviews with grim-faced people, backed by a constant soundtrack of dramatic music.

It didn’t quite shy away from saying the entire thing was a complete fuck-up by the ATF and FBI but the moments that said so were pretty brief. You could re-cut the entire thing to place more emphasis on the mistakes and it would have been even more interesting and more revealing. The very confident men wanging on about how their job was the most important in the world and they did everything right, despite 86 people dying, were a bit much after a while.

We watched a more interesting documentary about Waco a few years ago which I remember being more thoughtful, and having more about the years before the siege, which was also interesting. I think it might have been Waco: Madman or Messiah (Guardian review).

§ That is all. I hope you enjoy whatever festivities and rituals you have planned for the end of Q1.

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1 comment


    This is the one that I watched years ago. Much better I should think than the new one...