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Nathan Hopkins
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Just finished "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck. It's an incredibly powerful book. One thing that stood out was Steinbeck's  ability to build empathy & understanding for people & behavior that I might ordinarily dismiss.

For example, here's an insightful narrative of what motivates an alcoholic.


And always, if he had a little money, a man could get drunk. The hard edges gone, and the warmth. Then there was no loneliness, for a man could people his brain with friends, and he could find his enemies and destroy them. Sitting in a ditch, the earth grew soft under him. Failures dulled and the future was no threat. And hunger did not skulk about, but the world was soft and easy, and a man could reach the place he started for. The stars came down wonderfully close and the sky was soft. Death was a friend, and sleep was death’s brother. The old times came back— dear and warm. A girl with pretty feet, who danced one time at home— a horse— a long time ago. A horse and a saddle. And the leather was carved. When was that? Ought to find a girl to talk to. That’s nice. Might lay with her, too. But warm here. And the stars down so close, and sadness and pleasure so close together, really the same thing. Like to stay drunk all the time. Who says it’s bad? Who dares to say it’s bad? Preachers— but they got their own kinda drunkenness. Thin, barren women, but they’re too miserable to know. Reformers— but they don’t bite deep enough into living to know. No— the stars are close and dear and I have joined the brotherhood of the worlds. And everything’s holy— everything, even me.

Steinbeck, John (2006-03-28). The Grapes of Wrath (Kindle Locations 8984-8993). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition.


While a disturbing read, it's a fantastic book that will have you pondering just how committed to humanity you really are.

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"The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism... the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances." --Hugh Nibley

"[How] to ensure a company doesn't turn into a mind-numbing bureaucracy that smothers existing employees and scares off rule-bending innovators...

The basics: Make work fun; weed out the naysayers; celebrate failure, and then learn from it; allow employees to take short naps during the day; and don't shy away from hiring talented people just because they look sloppy or lack college credentials.

Atari... began to break the corporate mold, creating a template that is now common through much of Silicon Valley. [Allowing] employees to turn Atari's lobby into a cross between a video game arcade and the Amazon jungle... keg parties and hiring live bands to play for employees after work. [Encouraging] workers to nap during their shifts, reasoning that a short rest would stimulate more creativity when they were awake. [Also a] promised summer sabbatical every seven years."

I look forward to the day when most companies recognize that they are built upon human capital and start treating their employees as humans instead of replaceable cogs. It likely wont happen until the old guard with entrenched management philosophies (left over from the assembly line manufacturing era) retire. I sure hope my kids have the opportunity to work in a world where creative endeavors are truly valued.

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Companies and individuals that view software engineering as a cost center would do well to read the book "Economics in One Lesson".

It would help them understand that "...analyses must go beyond what is seen to what is unseen, or beyond the obvious, localized, and short-term effects of an action or policy to its subtler, wider reaching, and long-term consequences."

Software, especially an organization's internal tools, is often perceived to be a necessary evil. In reality, such software is the oil that makes it possible for the profit engine to run in the first place. It also provides unseen and unappreciated efficiencies that open the door to growth opportunity.

Its absurd that the software profession props up the false dichotomy between cost centers and profit centers. It encourages lazy business evaluation that overlooks the "unseen" which is harmful to the vast majority of our peers.

Listening to all the debate on gun control and mental health, it seems to me that we are missing the key talking point. Folks are clamoring for more restrictions on guns, including strict checks for the mentally ill. The trouble is that such policies punish the innocent. We would do well to remember that to live in a free society is to incur some risk.

While the recent tragedy in Connecticut is heart-wrenching, the actual issue being debated is whether or not we want to live in a free society. If the answer is yes, we need to remember that freedom is a package deal with risk.

Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said, "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." 

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Released a brand new Ruby Gem today. Coin is an absurdly simple in memory object caching system. It can be used instead of a solution like Memcached for most situations.

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Just released a new version of MicroTest. Moved to regular threads instead of using Celluloid for async test runs.

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My newest Ruby GEM is taking shape. 

MicroTest is a lightweight and extensible testing framework. I use the term framework loosely since its just over 100 lines of code. Don't let the small size fool you though. This thing supports a rich testing ecosystem, but with a low barrier to entry. The hope is to get more people testing.

MicroTest focuses on simplicity, extensibility, and overall workflow. The GEM is pretty close to feature complete. I would love to know what you think of it. 

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Just released the GrumpyOldMan Ruby GEM. Asserts for RSpec.
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