inessential by Brent Simmons


Happy Birthday to Melissa!

I'm looking for, and not finding, a console-based outliner that runs on OS X. If you know of one, please let me know. Thanks!


Maybe I'm touched in the head for making a big point of this -- but I have to take exception to the Talking Moose's calling us programmers software artists.

Don't call me an artist.

Software is art-like -- it's creative work, difficult, requiring concentration, perspiration, and inspiration. The result can provoke aesthetic admiration. Software can be beautiful.

But it's not art. Despite my politically correct education, I maintain the Western notion that art is literature, painting, sculpture, music, and architecture. (Film and photography may qualify, but the final decision hasn't been made.)

To call software "art" is to continue the inflation of everything.

What I mean is, pretty soon everything is art. Pretty soon the bagger at the grocery store wins a prize and a government grant and a show at that art gallery on the corner.

It's like, when I was a kid, in order to win a trophy your baseball team had to be the best. Nowadays kids get trophys just for showing up.

There's grade inflation too. I remember when I was at college, the most common grade was an A. More As were given than any other grade. How could this be?

I don't need the flattery. I don't need to think of myself as a software artist in order to make software. If you're a programmer, and you do need that flattery, maybe it's time to consider another career.

There's nothing wrong with distinctions and standards.

If you say to me -- Hey Brent, I really like what you do, it's cool and good -- then I'll say -- Thanks!

But if you call me an artist I'll say -- feh.


On the other hand, I agree with much of the rest of the Moose's story. Just not that particular choice of words.

When everything is art, there's no such thing as art anymore.


While I'm expressing unpopular opinions (which is fun for me), here's another one:

That Beatles song "All You Need is Love" causes my stomach acids to over-produce. I get gassy and bloated and have to go lie down.

You know the song, you can hear it in your head. Blaaaaah, blaaaah, love. Love, blaaaah, blaaaah. (It sounds like. To me.)

That dippy, droopy sound, the laughing horns -- the first time I heard it I thought it was a parody.

What nauseates me is the idea that love is some simple answer to all our ills. Why? Not because I don't believe in love or love's power -- but because I think love is much more powerful than all that.

Love is not some formula, it's not how to save the world in one easy step. Love is the rose with thorns, the tiger with claws and teeth, the beautiful bird of prey. It's more powerful, anarchic, out-of-control than any simple answer.

I remember reading Milan Kundera writing about the Prague Spring. The Russian soldiers entered Czechoslovakia to put down the revolution. When asked why, they said "because we love our Czech comrades."

Key point: they were not lying.

How many wife-beaters love their wives? The vast majority, I'd be willing to bet, no matter what scums they are.

Remember Othello, who "loved not wisely but too well."

I'm with Kurt Vonnegut when he says all we need is courtesy. There's a simple answer for you, but one that people don't want to hear. It's not very lyrical.

I would have called it "common courtesy" but we all know it's not common.