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DC Dreams

Friday, April 6th, 2012 at 4:35 am Written by:

So the ScraperWiki hackday in the Washington Post worked out. The team arrived the previous Tuesday in order to get on with some of that capitol city networking. There was a shared apartment for three of us and a good old fashioned diner round the corner with waffles.

It’s been a long time since I have been at home, and half the people I know from home were here. Except the important ones.

Then we did a session of that extreme agile, whiteboard, post-it-note, feature group vote, resolved introspective iteration incrementation, which I’m told is really modern. My suggestions were scrawled on quarter-size purple post-it notes and received votes from no one but me, and were therefore discarded on the floor. So you can guess why I don’t think much of this procedure. Luckily this regime hasn’t always been in place, which means some crucial features no one else wanted got implemented before the steel doors snapped shut.

I like CAM programming. During my long train journeys I implemented the second generation of my experimental tool tilting algorithm, and the lads in Copenhagen have just now bounced back to me six complete and utter fail bugs in it. Which I am going to try and fix over the next week. I can relate to that. It’s like changing lightbulbs. You put them in and you know when the light is on.

On a happier note, the Capitol Bikeshare was a hit — except for the parking. There aren’t enough of the park stands where you need to drop them off. And they are completely invisible from more than 50m away.

The Supreme court was 8 blocks from the apartment and in the midst of interrogating the lawyers concerning their potential overturning of Obama’s health care reform law. I listened to selections from their hearing. These guys are pretty dim. Broccoli, I ask you. Maybe we shouldn’t be allowed to make jay-walking illegal. Unlike a lot of other American policy choices (war, global pollution, sabotaged international treaty systems, and yet more war), this one generally only damages Americans. Which is how it should be. When they finally decide they have suffered enough, they are going to be able to change it.

We blew past this fake press conference by the House GOP women attempting to speak on the topic “Protect Women’s Health” and cover up for the fact that the GOP men had been smoking their own hashish and pushing for legally enforced, unpleasant and unnecessary procedures regarding women’s reproductive rights — while simultaneously arguing against health care reform on the basis of personal freedom and liberty from the government.

What the hell is this? In functioning political debate they wouldn’t even be trying, because it’s ridiculous. But they are trying, which proves it’s hopeless.

My mood was lifted by this ad on a passing bus: Doubts about religion? You’re one of many.

How can you not have hope?

And with this hope we went out and did this:

Saturday night at 8:30pm was Earth Hour, where the idea is to shut down all the lights and conserve energy for that hour and think about what we’re doing with the world. It’s kind of like an alcoholic taking a day off from the booze once month to see if the world is still out there. There is a particular Washington DC based right-wing fossil-fuel-funded astroturfing “think”-tank which goes by the name Competitive Enterprise Institute that tries to undermine Earth Hour with their Human Achievement Hour, where you turn on all the lights and make a lot of noise celebrating Human Achievement.

I could think of no better place in the world to spend Earth Hour than outside their crappy office building protesting everything that they represent.

This was obviously the first time anyone had ever done this, so there was a stream of their interns and operatives coming down from the 12th floor having a look and trying to invite us in to their party and offer us open beer bottles on the street where it would be illegal to have them.

I don’t know what they were doing up there in their office, but one thing they weren’t doing was updating their Twitter stream of somewhat under-whelming Human Achievements.

For the whole day (and still) the top story was about a shopping trolley mounted with a crappy Windows 8 tablet computer that potentially tells you what things to put in the cart in the supermarket.

This is embarrassing. Really it is.

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