Surprising Captions During “The Big Bang Theory”

So, there we were, about 17 minutes through tonight’s episode of The Big Bang Theory, and suddenly, the closed captioning diverted radically from what the characters were actually saying.

Closed captions: […going along normally, matching the acting, and suddenly:]

“…but if you think about it, it kind of makes sense, because her mouth is on her face, but she talks out of her ass!
I’m kidding.
I’m kidding!
I love Ann Coulter!”

…and then no more captions for the rest of the show!

She does talk out of her ass, though.

See the vanity card for this episode:
Chuck Lorre Productions #240

Outstanding Article on the Financial System Failure

I especially liked this part:

…Indeed, one of the great social benefits of the Madoff scandal may be to finally reveal the S.E.C. for what it has become.

Created to protect investors from financial predators, the commission has somehow evolved into a mechanism for protecting financial predators with political clout from investors. (The task it has performed most diligently during this crisis has been to question, intimidate and impose rules on short-sellers — the only market players who have a financial incentive to expose fraud and abuse.)

…and this one:

And here’s the most incredible thing of all: 18 months into the most spectacular man-made financial calamity in modern experience, nothing has been done to change that, or any of the other bad incentives that led us here in the first place.

Read the full story in the New York Times
“The End of the Financial World as We Know It”
January 3, 2009

About the authors: Michael Lewis, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and the author of “Liar’s Poker,” is writing a book about the collapse of Wall Street. David Einhorn is the president of Greenlight Capital, a hedge fund, and the author of “Fooling Some of the People All of the Time.”

Calabasas Fire

A fire broke out today about a mile from the office where Industry Figure Larry Helmerich and I work in Calabasas, California.

We first noticed it was “a little smoky” around 1:00pm, and within 15 minutes, it looked like this, with the whole ridge on its way up to Smoky Town (this photo taken as we bravely retreated to our cars):
Larry Helmerich, Alcatel-Lucent offices, and Calabasas Fire
Industry Figure Larry Helmerich, our office building, and a passing fire. Click to enlarge.

Zombie Alert

Seen on reddit:
Danger: Zombie Attack


“This is precisely the sort of thing that’ll reduce readiness when a REAL zombie attack occurs!”

“I know it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s only a matter of time, people!”

“You know what’s scary? I’m not entirely sure what I would do if I would be driving home and saw that sign. I’ve been planning too long, waiting for the sign of their emergence. It is no laughing matter.”

Commenter truffle_shuffle made the excellent point that zombies are fantastically good at viral marketing, and it’s true that they’re surprisingly effective — I mean, you might not think that you’d be lurching around, moaning for brains, but just wait until you’ve been exposed to it; it grows on you.

Read the full Zombie Survival Guide Interview in the Washington Post:

Falls Church, VA: What do zombies do during the day?

Max Brooks
: Attack and kill, just like the night. One of the reasons they scare me so much. They don’t have any rules.

DRM Worst-Case Scenario

Microsoft is [obviously] not going out of business any time soon, but it’s gotten to be just too much of a hassle for them to continue to support their PlaysForSure Digital Rights Management scheme that they pushed on device manufacturers and customers for years, before deciding that it wasn’t good enough for their own Zune.

They’ve notified their customers that no new authorizations for playing a given song on a given PC or a given device will be issued after August 31, though any existing authorizations will continue to work, as long as you’ve started to play the song at least once on the existing PC or device, and haven’t had to reinstall Windows, or purchased a new PC or device that you were hoping to play music on. Enjoy!

(“So, everybody run out and buy a Zune! We’ll never screw you over a second time!”)

One customer posted the text of the letter, along with his “snarky translation of the meaning”:

“MSN Music is constantly striving to provide you, our user, with the most compelling music experience that we can. We want to tell you about an upcoming change to our support service to ensure you have a seamless experience with the music you’ve downloaded from MSN Music.”

Translation: We’ve got bad news that’s really going to piss you off, and we need to soften you up first…

Read the full Dear-John Letter from MSN Music, and Translation

Great News About Circuit City

…and here’s some terrific news from Forbes about how Circuit City’s rotten mass firing of experienced (and higher-paid) staff, in favor of untrained teen scum, has totally failed!

The company has floundered after experiencing a devastating third quarter loss, reported last December 21, of $207.3 million, or $1.26 per share, from $20.4 million, or 12 cents per share, the same period of 2006. The losses came after Circuit City fired 3,400 experienced workers to replace them with lower-waged workers.

Oh yeah, and if you bought Circuit City stock on the strength of that earlier report (that they were just massively and deliberately laying off older and more experienced staff, in favor of a crack team of doofi), then I’m really, really glad that your stock has plummeted to a quarter of its year-ago value.

Read about the layoffs, in The Christian Science Monitor:
“When a layoff is the reward for experience”
April 16, 2007

Read about the losses, in Forbes:
“Circuit City Fights To Keep Current”
February 26, 2008

25th Wedding Anniversary

Tom and Sylvia’s 25th Wedding Anniversary dinner at our favorite local Japanese restaurant, Tori Yen in Tujunga, California.

So that the photo would more properly mark the occasion, they gave Sylvia a geisha wig and a duck’s beak, and gave me a Groucho mask, along with authentic Japanese hair costumery.

They also festooned us with Lovely Parting Gifts — note the Umbrella Hat in foreground.

It’s a wonderful and peculiar place. We couldn’t have possibly enjoyed ourselves more.

Tom and Sylvia at Tori Yen, wearing a duck's beak and Groucho mask, as well as geisha wig and Japanese head scarf.

Ruby on Rails: [Annoyed Grunt] Stupid Fixtures!

So, as an example of just the latest stumbling block in my Ruby on Rails learning project, I wanted to set up my database tables with proper Foreign Key constraints. But I keep seeing signs that the RoR mainline developers just totally don’t bother with this. Signs like: it’s not really supported very well. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Pragmatic Programmers’ Agile Web Development with Rails book had had a link to some guys who had a plugin, several levels of plugins, actually, for supporting FK constraints in migrations. So I took the lowest-level core one, the one that did the least, and hooked it in, and voila, Foreign Key constraints.

And I wrote a controller functional test, which operated on a ‘child’ table (a table that had a foreign key to a ‘parent’ table), and ran it through rake test, and everything was great! The plugin guys had said that if you listed the test fixtures in order from parent table to child table, that everything would work, and it did!

And I wrote another functional test, for the parent this time, and some unit tests for the models…and the world exploded. There were, for one thing, problems tearing down the test data, but (and this was weird), the data was being torn down at the beginning of the tests, rather than at the end of each test. Some time spent with the world’s premier debugging and research tool (starts with a G) turned up a Wiki entry that someone had posted about suppressing FK constraints while tearing down and setting up data. Hm, sounded a little skanky, but at least my actual tests would run with the FK constraints enabled, just like the actual program would. OK.

Retool, retry, and…hey, it almost worked, just one test, of about 60, failed! This was feeling like progress! So, what was the one thing left that was failing? The test_destroy method for the controller that used the parent table. It was trying to delete a record that that was being pointed to by the child table. But WTF? I didn’t even declare the child table’s fixture in my parent table’s controller test!

A great deal of time passed, and in the end, it came down to one committer deciding that if he left a known problem broken, no, if he actually reverted a fix, so that the data from unwanted fixtures that had been used by previous tests would still be left lying around, then he could make the tests twice as fast! And all he had to do was leave it broken!

His justification was that fixtures are really just relics anyway, and that the easy workaround to their being broken was not to use them. I’m not sure, in that case, why it was so vital to speed them up while breaking them again, but then again, I’m not a fricking genius. I am, however, bitter about the hours of my life that I’ll never see again.

Here is the relevant bug ticket. Geez, Louise.

[To be fair, the workarounds that are available are…adequate. I totally have FK constraints in my application, and I’m definitely running rake tests. It wasn’t too awful to work around the problem. Just very annoying.]