Why You Should Swallow The Red Pill

I like my first experience of a film to be unsoiled by public opinion. Too many movies have been ruined by being over hyped, like My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Napoleon Dynamite which everyone screamed I just had to see, you see, because they were just so damn funny it defies words, blah blah blah. Then I spend the entire movie trying to suss out what the hell it was that these people were talking about. Suddenly the credits roll and I feel like I’ve been cheated out of my $15 by some used-car salesman gone movie promoter.

So I watched The Red Pill without having read a single bit of critique or praise, and I was blissfully unaware that so much hype surrounded this documentary. Before the film had even finished I already knew what Google would look like when I went online to read up on what people were saying. What follows isn’t so much a movie review as it is a response to the criticisms that feign intellect in the name of ideological damage control.

Author’s Note: I purposely use the term “leftist” in this article as opposed to “Liberal” in referring to regressive fringe activists. Being a former Liberal I have many friends who still align as Liberals, and I have strong hopes that Liberalism may yet be saved from regressivism. Also, where I refer to “feminism” without qualification, I am referring to third-wave feminism of the modern day, and not to any of its predecessors.

Why Australian Men’s Rights Activists Had Their Bullshit Documentary Banned

This subtly-titled opinion piece by Katherine Gillespie originally appeared in Vice Australia. You can’t really call it a movie review because she doesn’t review the movie at all. Rather, she chews on what feminist activists and their sympathizers have to say about it and spits it back up for her readers like a Mother Heron. She leads off with the story about how an activist successfully got the film pulled from Palace Cinemas in Melbourne (a not-so-subtle hint for other feminist activists.)

Gillespie quotes Susie Smith—the Change.org petition creator to have the movie pulled: “feminist’ [director Cassie] Jaye decides to investigate rape-culture, opens the first hit on Google (Red Pill) and before she knows it, she has seen the light and converted to ‘meninism.'”

So first things first: Susie Smith is full of shit and hasn’t even seen the movie she petitioned to get banned. Nobody decides to investigate “rape culture” on google by searching for “red pill” for starters. They simply search for “rape culture.” What Susie means to say is that she googled “Red Pill” and clicked on the reddit link which is the first result that comes back. Had she bothered to see the film for herself she would have known that the subreddit /r/TheRedPill is a separate phenomenon from A Voice For Men led by Paul Elam, and is NOT the origin of the documentary title. And the funny thing about the term “meninist” is that it was originally a positive term that meant “male feminist.” It was these “meninists” who were collectively self-debasing and socially pathetic to skin-crawling levels of cringe where they themselves caused the term to mean “socially repugnant.” It is telling how quickly feminists turned on these members of their own movement and now use the term to describe opposition to third-wave feminism. The director Cassie Jaye mentions the distinction between TheRedPill subreddit and other factions of men’s rights groups explicitly and very early on.

I hate to think that an explanation on this is warranted, but it is, unfortunately, for reasons I will go into later in this article. Reddit is the grandaddy venue for online trolls. So even if the subreddit shares the same name as the documentary film, and even if the subreddit shares the same topic it is still an online forum where people post incendiary statements with the intent and purpose of causing people to go on the defensive. You cannot compare any actual organization or social movement against an internet forum which enables and cultivates materials which can be intentionally offensive. The year is 2017 and the very idea of online trolling is now old enough to drink at the pub, older than many of the social justice warriors who can only picket from outside the bar. If you are still grappling with this concept and demonstrating an inability to distinguish virtual reality from actual reality then you should sit down and let mature people speak for a change.

The remainder of Gillespie’s piece goes on to smear “guilt by association” on the film with mentions of support from your standard leftist boogymen: Breitbart and Milo Yiannopoulos. By this point Katherine has run out of other people’s original ideas to lift so she pads the bottom of her article with links to delicately titled articles (at the time of publication) to remind us how violent men are: Donald Trump and What Men Say When They Think Women Won’t HearMen Tell Us Why They Cheated, and The Rise of Steroid Use.

The Red Pill: I Watched It, So You Don’t Have To

Moving on to people who actually watch the movies they review, Luke Buckmaster’s piece on the Daily Review heroically tackles the “poison-tasting” and “take-the-bullet” exertion of leftist intellectual effort to ensure that new ideas are suitably Nerf-like before being inserted into the glass museums of leftist minds. It is exactly this kind of intellectual guide-posting that disgusted me as a former Liberal and led me on a journey away from shit-talking action evangelists like Luke Buckmaster. For reasons I fail to comprehend, leftists eat up this “I Think, So You Don’t Have To” intellectual-outback bushwhackery.

The first mortal sin of The Red Pill, apparently, is that it ran 25 seconds longer than your typical documentary films’ running time of 90 minutes. Okay, that’s not what Luke says, but you definitely get the sense that his patience has already run thin by this point. He goes on to say, “It was the return to the screen of two ‘experts’, for want of a better word, who are regularly brought back, for reasons that elude me, to do their thing: complain about women and attempt to solicit sympathy about the apparently oppressed male populace.” Really Luke? You have to be trying pretty hard to come to that conclusion. But Luke isn’t anywhere near done yet, and we will see that he’s willing to put in the extra work to conform his world view.

The first of these two men to come under Luke’s crosshairs is Dean Esmay, a writer for the Huffington Post, among others, “who speaks with closed and squinty eyes….” Ok, Luke, I’ll grant you that I also found Dean’s talking through closed and squinty eyes a bit off-putting. Lets face it: it comes across as smug. But what is it that Dean is being so smug about? Is it the level of smugness that Southpark nailed so many years ago? According to Buckmaster, it’s that “men need compassion.” The GUAL! If there were any need to defend Dean Esmay for such an outrageous statement I could mention that it wasn’t Esmay who said this, it was Tom Golden in the clip immediately prior, and directly after the segment talking about how mainstream media didn’t care at all about the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram murdering hundreds of young schoolboys up until the point where they started kidnapping the girls instead of just letting them go. I wonder how squinty Luke’s eyes will get when he explains to these young Nigerian boys that mainstream indifference is the price they pay for having a penis.

The real outrage, Luke goes on, is that Cassie Jaye’s “primary objective [is] to humanise controversial figures in the men’s rights movement.” If you didn’t consider The Red Pill propaganda by this point, Luke fills in the mental blanks for his readers, the sole purpose of the film is to “flatter” these men since they had, after all, bankrolled the film on Kickstarter. What Luke conveniently leaves out of this implication is the fact that the Kickstarter campaign—which raised over $200,000—was conducted after the documentary had finished shooting and was headed to post production (which, by the way, is very expensive). The fact that men’s rights activists were willing to shovel out nearly a quarter of a million dollars only demonstrates that these men valued seeing a movie that finally depicted them the way that they see themselves instead of being subjected to rote monstrous depictions by third-wave feminists. My God, Luke! What a horrible thing indeed; men being able to speak for themselves without first having to go to the feminist editorial board of approved content and imagery! But I have just one question about the social affiliations of the people who pledged money to this documentary: How are you determining that it is men’s rights activists that funded the film? Where is this demographic breakdown that says that the only people interested in this movie are men’s rights activists? Last I checked Kickstarter is open and available to anyone who wants to pledge.

But what about Paul Elam’s well documented misogyny?

By this point in Buckmaster’s article we start to see external links. A good rule of thumb when you encounter supposedly supporting materials is to click on those links and read the results. Often times the link is simply there to add the illusion of supporting material that most leftist “intellectuals” are simply too lazy to check out for themselves. Many times these links just go to other leftist rants that then link off to other leftist rants which ultimately link to documents that do nothing to support the claims being made along these trails of crocodile tears. As long as the link points to an opinion piece of a similar subject (doesn’t have to support the claim being referenced) this equates to corroborating sources for leftist rantings. This phenomenon isn’t limited to the blogosphere either. Unfortunately this is now an acceptable practice in major newspaper op-eds, and increasingly ignored in actual “news” reporting as well.

Since Luke feels that Paul Elam’s misogyny is documented ipso facto he doesn’t waste any external sources on these. Luke just quotes Elam saying “Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true” and leaves it there for the reader to be disgusted by it. And yes, on the face of it that is a really screwed up thing to say. Funny thing though is that you can still access the article on the AVFM website where you will find a five paragraph editorial note explaining the purpose of deliberately inflammatory articles as being clickbait. The note explains that “[i]t is also telling that, once again, this unusual article, not typical at all of AVfM content, is still years later regularly cited as ‘typical,’  instead of what it was: a provocative piece meant to force people to think about things they don’t like thinking about.” Or maybe it’s just that Paul Elam really hates jury duty and wants to be permanently disqualified from having to be subjected to it.

As far as incendiary Elam quotes go, there is one that is far worse, out of context, which Cassie Jaye actually talks about in the film. The quote is in direct response to an article published by Jezebel entitled “Have You Ever Beat Up A Boyfriend? Cause, Uh, We Have” that excuses female violence towards men as “funny” and justifiable. The point of Elam’s quote was to illustrate a double standard about how one gender talks about violence towards the other. Female violence towards men is almost always dismissed as trivial. Hmm… I wonder how Elam’s experiment is going?

But what about the links Luke does provide? Well there is one that absolutely destroys Paul Elam: a link to a free and public service called “Urban Dictionary” where anybody can write just about anything without any kind of validation at all, and—wait for it—post it online where other people can see it! And HO-BOY! The top definition was upvoted by, like, forty people! I suppose I should just stop writing this rebuttal right now and admit defeat in the face of such overwhelming evidence.

The other link is to a BuzzFeed wall-of-text that I venture to bet hardly any leftist bothered to read. I, however, read the whole thing top to bottom, and yes I checked out the links. It is clear now that the biggest threat to The Red Pill is Paul Elam’s controversial and incendiary tactics. It is the hope of third-wave feminists and their apologists that simply attacking Paul Elam will be enough to discredit the entire documentary film. It clearly has been an effective strategy given the mindless throngs that bristle at the mere mention of Elam’s name. The BuzzFeed article, at best, paints Elam as a deadbeat dad (in fact it is in the title of the piece). At worst it paints him as both that and a greedy man who is only in it for the money he collects out of the Men’s Rights Movement.

SO WHAT? Ah, yes I see. We’re now vetting Paul Elam’s flaws for public office candidacy? But you make a resounding and valid point: Paul Elam Isn’t Perfect. We’ll tack that right up there on the Big Board of Facts for everyone to see. Look at that!

If you’re to take the BuzzFeed article on face value, you should also note that Paul Elam’s estranged daughter, a victim of abuse herself, is proud of the work her father is doing with the AVfM website and encouraged him to keep doing it! The BuzzFeed article goes on to commit many of the same fallacies as does Buckmaster and Gillespie by taking  uncited quotes out of context with total disregard to intent and purpose in order to position someone in an unflattering light. Known and reviled by most people as a smear campaign.

What is even more irritating is when leftist capitalistic entities like BuzzFeed attack people for being for profit. Okay, please pause while I put on my hypocrite bullshit glasses. It is estimated that the AVfM pulls in a whopping $120,000 a year and get this: IT’S ALL FOR PROFIT! Again, so WHAT?! $120,000 a year is not very much money for an entire organization to pull in, and yet AVfM members seem happy enough to keep paying, so who cares if Paul Elam has to pay taxes on that money or not? Are you suggesting, BuzzFeed, that it would be better if A Voice For Men were a non-profit and no taxes were paid on those donations? What is the nature of this insinuation, exactly? Oh, I see, you just want your readers to “feel” as though something illicit is going on when in fact the whole thing is so vanilla legal it drives even the world’s least competent lawyers to suicide just for something more interesting to do with their time.

Focusing almost exclusively on Paul Elam is the only tactic capable of holding feminist ideological ground, and it makes sense why any and all criticisms of the documentary highlight Paul Elam as quickly and prominently as possible. Luke Buckmaster doesn’t like Paul Elam. Not at all. He is “one of the talking heads who compelled me to turn this wretched, morally bankrupt documentary off.” Well, this explains the superficial critiques. Why would you bother to find out that the person you love to hate is actually a human being after all, imperfect though he may be?

The Vile Masquerading Mindsets Of Other People

When all else fails in leftist rhetoric one turns to circumstantial “evidence” of the “true and hidden intentions” of “evil people” by mocking them when they make mistakes. It shows above all else that they haven’t much or any ground to stand on. So what do they do? They hire one of those perspective sidewalk painters to create an illusion that their ideological battlement is better protected. If there were any concrete evidence one would hope that they’d scream and yell and jump up and down to let everyone know they’ve found something credible. But when they can’t do this, they pull out the gag reel and start name calling other people’s mistakes.

These attacks are reserved for Cassie Jaye herself. Luke links to two interviews she did on Australian television. One where the interviewers clumsily attempt to derail Cassie with shitty reporting by asking why she didn’t ask certain questions which were, in fact, asked. The interviewers would have known this if they watched the screener Cassie sent them, although they claimed not to have seen it and blamed it on bad links, YouTube and the Interwebs with technical excuses equivalent to “the dog ate my homework.”

In the other interview, admittedly, Cassie puts her foot in her mouth. One reporter suggests that the level of controversy around her film in Australia may surround that country’s “intolerance” for views that don’t focus on women’s issues, citing recent Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, a mother whose son was murdered by his abusive father. To which Cassie responds, “That’s interesting, because it shows that there are male victims of domestic violence.” It appears that Cassie then regrets the statement and tries again to pull the conversation back towards talking about situations where men are also the victims of domestic violence instead of the interviewer’s insinuation that her film is denying or taking away from the reality that women also suffer from domestic violence.

Obviously, a better response from Cassie Jaye would have been that in addition to the 1 in 3 women who will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, that 1 in 4 men will also experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. It is not the objective of the men’s rights movement to deny the existence of violence against women, but simply to add discussion about violence against men to the table. This is a point that was precisely made in her film. However anyone who can criticize a misstep like this has never done talking points with hostile interviewers regarding a controversial subject. It does not, as Luke Buckmaster suggests, give us an “indication of the filmmaker’s mindset.”

Earlier Luke Buckmaster (falsely) accuses Cassie Jaye of making an argument that women have it better than men “by taking a single example of injustice and insinuating it applies across the board.” In a two-hour long documentary that Buckmaster claims to have watched (so you don’t have to) did he simply miss all of the other examples of injustice? But since his rules only apply to Cassie Jaye and not to himself, he then reduces Cassie Jaye’s examples of men being the vast majority of work related deaths to being military-only deaths. Then he begs the question of, “why there is such striking gender imbalance in the military (from the expectations we place on men to well-documented misogyny in armies around the world).” While that is a fair question, it doesn’t reflect the statements made in the documentary, which states that the most dangerous jobs with the highest risk of death are really important jobs which make our society possible. Largely these jobs are held, and lost as a result of death, by men. The women who do not die because they do not do these jobs benefit from the men who do. Yes, this includes the military. It also includes the police, firefighters, loggers, miners, electricians, foundry workers, truck drivers, oil riggers, construction workers, etc., etc. Do you enjoy your water and electricity much? You’re welcome.

Finally Luke Buckmaster shows his true colors and misrepresents the entire purpose and meaning of the film with his leftist coup de grâce: “The message isn’t that men need more funding and resources; it’s that women ought to have less.” Not once, anywhere, is this sentiment stated or even hinted at within The Red Pill. Luke Buckmaster, shame on you! SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME, SHAME!

Back in the day when leftists were still Liberals (and yes I make a distinction here) calling out the vast number of unanswered questions as warranting a conversation and acting like true intellectuals was still a reasonable and acceptable course of action. Especially if the topic was controversial. But we don’t live in the age of intellectual liberalism any more. Instead we live in a world where opposing viewpoints are considered “dangerous.” Having the freedom of intellect and being capable of making up your own mind is actually something Luke Buckmaster sums up perfectly: “That is not my recommendation; it is simply not worth your time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I watched it, so you don’t have to.”

My Hero!

So, why you should watch The Red Pill

Because they don’t want you to see it. That’s why.

Cowspiracy: When Idiots Make Movies

 

Cowspiracy
Cowspiracy

I’ve spent the past 20 years studying filmmaking and the language of cinema, so when I see it done badly it tends to produce feelings—of a kind—the filmmaker didn’t intend. So I will spare you my feelings of Cowspiracy in this regard and try instead to focus on the content itself. Content is the most important ingredient in any movie and should have been more carefully groomed in this one.

Was this a documentary about global warming? Or ocean life extinctions? Deforestation, environmental damage, or drought? Was it about evil corporate agribusiness? The meager and misplaced foibles of sustainable animal husbandry? Or was it about veganism? Every ten minutes I wanted the filmmakers to make some kind of point. Turns out they only had one point to make so they saved if for last: Cowspiracy attempts to persuade people that veganism is the only reasonable answer to annihilation by bludgeoning the audience with ad nauseum ill-informed outrage activist appeals to emotion.

First let’s talk about the movie’s title, the “conspiracy of cows.” I’m pretty sure the filmmaker intended to mean that it was the cattle industry that was conspiring and not so much the cattle, but we’ll let that slide. I lost count of how many times the filmmaker finds it “odd” that the people he drops in on, unannounced, to talk about global warming wouldn’t be prepared to talk about the cattle industry—a whole other topic. Ignorance, especially your own, is not evidence of a conspiracy. A conspiracy is something that happens in secret. Nothing about the cattle industry is secret, most certainly not any of the filmmaker’s “revelations.” How do you keep something secret that you can literally smell for miles before you actually see it? Just because the filmmaker was ignorant of the practices up until five minutes before he decided to make a documentary does not mean that there was a conspiracy—massive or otherwise—in order to produce his ignorance. Sorry buddy, but that’s all on you. This information has been in the public domain for decades.

If you do a google search for “list of fallacies” you’ll find the shooting script for Cowspiracy on Wikipedia. Let’s start with “slippery slope.” The filmmaker starts with how he became an environmentalist after watching An Inconvenient Truth which predicted in dates now past that we’d all be swimming in the ocean due to the burning of fossil fuels. When that didn’t happen, and it turns out that fossil fuels aren’t as big a contributor as passionately argued, he moves on to “special pleading” to change the culprit from oil to animal husbandry, despite the fact that animal farming is tens of thousands of years old and would have been contributing more towards global warming all this time than Al Gore’s original argument for fossil fuels. And still the dire predictions are yet to be seen.

The filmmaker then uses a hodge-podge of fallacies to ignore any counter argument to his own: strawman, false cause, black-or-white, composition/division, tu quoque, etc. My favorite is when the Sierra Club suggests that eating fish is a great way to protect fish from extinction and the filmmaker objects, “That’s like saying you can protect panda bears from extinction by eating panda bears.” Ok, so two things right here: 1) We don’t eat panda bears and they are going extinct; 2) I wonder if there’s an example of animals that we do eat that are proliferating. Hmm… Let me think. How about: cows, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits and yes even fish. Needless to say it kind of proves the point.

The filmmaker even manages to combine two separate fallacies into one, the anecdotal and the appeal to authority fallacies, where he includes Susan Hartland from Sea Shepherd saying that we are headed towards fish-less oceans and, “this is coming from The Scientists.” Which scientists? We will never know because the filmmaker never bothers to back this up. Are these the same scientists that predicted Florida and New York City would be under the ocean by now? The ninety minutes of this documentary are one gigantic fallacy—an appeal to emotion—wrapped around so many other fallacies it is impractical to cover them all here.

By now you’re probably thinking that 1) I’m a climate denier, 2) I eat steak at every meal, and 3) I hate veganism. The truth is I am none of those things. The Earth is warming up. This is undeniable. However, this is the only part of global warming where there is scientific consensus.* My personal position—not being a climate scientist—is to be skeptical about the claims of what is going to happen due to global warming (a discipline separate from taking the Earth’s temperature, btw); to wait and see what other scientists find on that matter; and to allow for more information to come from the scientific community before I start believing in somebody’s agenda. Being reserved about jumping to conclusions (the bandwagon fallacy) has made me more correct on the issue than has been Al Gore, for instance, and is usually enough to land me on the finger-pointing end of outrage activists because I refuse to preach the gospel. I do refuse to preach what I don’t think is fully formed, and I’m fine with people being outraged because of that. They can be the first to be foolish if they want.

I hardly ever eat meat. I never drink milk and I don’t eat cereal, I do enjoy milk-based products from time to time (cheeses, yogurts, butter, whey). I eat a lot of eggs. I eat meat about once a week, if that much, usually chicken, sometimes pork. I’m not a huge fan of beef, honestly, I think pork tastes better. I’ll usually reserve meats for when I cook at home. I don’t eat a lot of grains because Americans eat more grain than is healthy, the same reason it isn’t healthy for cows. A little bit is fine, but as the foundation for every meal? Please.

Where I absolutely avoid meats, as well as any kind of food, is processed and fast foods. This is the culprit—not agricultural industry. As long as there is McDonalds there’s going to be a massive cattle industry and subsidized agriculture. And I agree that Americans should be eating less of it. If the American diet were comprised of 70% fruits and veggies, 20% meats and dairy and 10% grains we would be a healthier population, and the environment would be much more stable.

Lastly, I don’t hate veganism. I just hate Cowspiracy. If you want to watch a documentary that actually makes a decent case for veganism, watch Forks Over Knives. Those filmmakers know how to make a movie, and it gets right to the crux of the issue that fits with most people: the health benefits of a vegan diet. Forks Over Knives is probably the best argument for veganism I’ve ever heard, but unfortunately even that falls short.

I disagree with the philosophy of veganism, but not with the moral practice of boycotting industrial agriculture. Everyone gets to have their own values, and it’s not my place to tell you what to believe or how to feel. If you don’t want to support industrial animal husbandry on the principle of it, that’s fine. And whatever your reason for not supporting sustainable and humane animal husbandry is your business. My objection is to the claim that pure veganism is the most balanced and humane way to live one’s life. It completely ignores the relationship that has been cultivated for thousands of years between humans and animals on the farm. Like it or not, animals are great for farms and safeguarding the health of the land they live on. They provide the best fertilizer and allow for maximized organic output, just take a look at Polyface farms. Even Michael Pollan says this in his book Omnivore’s Dilemma.

Veganism isn’t the most balanced way to live, not by a long shot. Vitamin B12 is essential to life—you will die without it—and it comes most readily from animal products. Without B12 you cannot produce new blood cells, or virtually any cells in your body. Do a search for “vitamin B12 vegan” and you will see that the “vegan source for B12 comes from fortified foods.” Well, where do you think those B12 fortifications are coming from? Animals. While there are non-animal sources of B12, the largest concentration is found in yeast extract. 100 grams of the stuff provides a whopping 8% of your daily value.

Yeast extract—also known as Vegemite to Australians, and BLEGH to Americans—those of us who love it (yup, that would be me) use it sparingly, never enough to make up for animal sources of B12. You would need to consume 2.75 pounds of the stuff every day, and at that point you would have a sodium problem. Most vegans eat B12 fortified foods to get what they need, or take a vitamin supplement to ensure they’re getting the essentials. Making the vitamin pill shaped, or hiding it in your grains only suspends disbelief in the 100% non-animal fairytale.

Balanced living means you survive on the foods you eat without requiring extra processing. In the wild we would hunt and gather. If you have to take a pill every day to stay alive, that isn’t balanced living—that is life support. Until the day Vegans find the magical Vitamin B12 shrub it is highly impractical to live authentically off a 100% vegan diet. There certainly won’t be enough B12 produced to keep everyone in the world alive if we all went vegan and stopped killing animals or consuming their milk and eggs. I certainly don’t want to eat 3 pounds of yeast extract every day. Do you?

*After listening to Professor Ivar Giaever’s take on this issue, I’m not so certain about the global warming consensus. But I’m not a scientist, he is. So perhaps it would be fair to listen to his 30 minutes in addition to the last decade of punditry.

I love a good lab

Once upon a time I lived and worked in Los Angeles as a Gaffer. That’s “Chief Lighting Technician” to you. A fellow Gaffer I knew had been dabbling in making custom Steampunk lamps and Nixie Tube clocks. I loved these little light-up-numerical display bulbs, and being a dabbler and an overly curious individual I thought if I could get my hands on a couple of these gadgets that I’d try and see if I could make them myself.

Well, around the same time a guy (also a programmer like me, who also apparently dabbled in filmmaking like I did) had the same infatuation and idea to dabble with them and see if he could figure out how to make them. His name is Dalibor Farny and he lives in the Czech Republic.

Anyway… Dalibor had created an online business that did well enough that he was able to fund his own Nixie tube research lab, and, well… He figured it out (BOY did he!) and I’m insanely jealous. Luckily, he made an awesome video that documents the entire process of making a Nixie tube.

See for yourself.

Automated Deprecation Detection: Coming Soon to an RFC Near You

So, I got my druthers in bunch and decided that the Internet really needed a new standard. So I wrote one.

I build APIs for a living (thats Application Programming Interface to everyone else.) Part of the horror of what I do for a living is cleaning up after tenures of really bad decision making. It is a daily thing for me now.

But as I continuously support these horrid ideas that people previous to myself (and, well, including myself if I am to be quite honest) part of the issue is trying to correct the errors of our ways. The problem, however, is that once you publish a public interface you’re kinda stuck with it. Because people can then use it and write software that depends on your (lets be honest) crappy implementations.

Publicly, all software engineers say our stuff is keen and clean while privately we panic almost daily when we dig up one of our long forgotten gems we thought was a really great idea at the time. Now it stares back at us as we wonder, “What in the hell was I thinking?” If only it were easier to fix things that are publicly facing. If only there was a way to let your customers know about breaking changes and the newer, better way to use your services before they actually break.

Enter Automated Deprecation Detection.

The gist of the RFC I have authored is to introduce a whole new HTTP status code: 286 Deprecated. The whole point of this code is to behave like a 200 OK status code while alerting clients that the service they depend upon may be going away or changing at some time in the future. The 286 Deprecated status code is accompanied by header metadata that indicates when a resource will be removed and where more information about that deprecation can be found.

The idea is that software engineers write software to automate the things we don’t want to monitor ourselves (shocker, I know….) and may actually miss the feeble attempts of API maintainers to warn us of impending doom. But now with the introduction of the 286 status code clients can check for it and alert their maintenance teams accordingly, so that they know well in advance that a dependency will be break before it actually does.

I can’t tell you how awesome this is, unless you’ve ever written any software that depends on some 3rd party system, which was deprecated at some point in a blog like this and you didn’t happen to be reading the blog that day. Then one day, you’re sipping on your coffee and all things are grand, when all of the sudden–WHHHAAAPAA–your shit stops working.

For the laypeople who happen to be gluttons for punishment, when an HTTP client makes a request to an external system they’re usually looking for a 200 OK response code that says, “Yup, I know what the hell you’re asking for and here it is!” But until now there was no way–outside of posting in a changelog blog or sending warning messages when no one is actually listening–that the service being requested was being removed or replaced with anything else.

286 Deprecated means “Ok, but what you’re asking for is being 86d in the near future.” This status code now lets software engineers look for the 2xx SUCCESS portion of the code, but notice the x86 portion of the code which says, “Okay, BUT…” and then let the people who wrote that software know to look into it before it becomes a coffee-spoiling, day-ruining thang.

Of course none of this is official yet. The RFC has been submitted for editorial review and it is up to the IETF to determine if this is as awesome as I say it is or not. But I have my hopes. And I think we very well may be looking at RFC#### in the near future.

Believe me, when that day comes I’ll let everybody know.

Ahoy-hoy!

I’m Austen Hoogen, and I think I’ve probably had a blog or a website in some form of disarray going on 20 years now. I always say I’m going to pay more attention, but they always file for divorce and leave anyway.

Probably for the best, since this last iteration is the most sparse thing I’ve ever put out in quite some time. Hopefully I can make up for that with some stellar content on all things that make me squee. “Cat videos,” you ask? It is very likely that it could happen, but mostly I want to use this blog to track the things I do for a living, the things I wished I did for a living, and all the things I fill my time between.

The tricky part, of course, is making enough room in all those things to sit at my desk and plunk out stupid messages like this in the hopes that I can attract the attention of frantic Googlers, searching desperately for something else but wind up on this page nonetheless. I’ll do my very best to help them, but I am a procrastinator still searching for my Panic Monster; it may take a while.

I’m a Software Engineer

I work at a company called TUNE where I program things you’ve probably never seen. I am a back-end systems engineer building software that happily chugs along and does lots of work without people needing to see it. I like it that way. Because CSS and Javascript make me cranky, just like PHP. Yeah, yeah… This blog is written in PHP (I DIDN’T DO IT!!) however one of the many, many things on my to-do list is not to write yet-another-blog-platform in Go or Java or Python or C–you know, real programming languages–so this blog will just have to do.

I brew beer

I’ve been doing it for God knows how long (which is 12 years). I love everything about beer and can probably tell you more than you ever wanted to know about the process, its history, the industry, etc.

Someday, I will have a brewery. You should come by my fantasy future brewery and have a beer. No need to bring your own, I’ll sell you one.

No, seriously, I’m crazy about this shit. One time, in between jobs, I decided what was really missing in my living room was a yeast propagation lab. Well let me tell you, my living room is not missing a yeast propagation lab anymore! I have a homemade temperature controlled incubator with heating and cooling (via a homemade propylene glycol chiller housed in the freezer portion of my homemade kegerator) and about as much microbiology lab equipment that one can reasonably fit in their apartment living room. (I super love my 2000x trinocular microscope!)

Burton Ale Yeast at 400x magnification
Burton Ale Yeast at 400x magnification

I dabble in electronics

Microcontrollers, embedded systems and BTLE sensor projects mostly. If I’m working on something it is probably trying to build or automate something in my beer making. Current projects include better temperature sensing and system controls on my incubator, a BTLE in-line thermometer, and other brewery automatia that suits my fancy.

And of course there’s the programming of these things. I like to work on projects making better software for brewers who want to manage their brewing lives. Seriously, with all the engineers out there brewing beer you’d think there’d be better software!

I make food

I love cooking. Especially if it involves fermenting. Yogurt/sour cream/creme fraiche/cultured butter/bread. YUM! And I make a borscht that will bring tears to your eyes.

I dream of having a workshop just like Adam Savage

I like to pretend, quite often, that I am friends with Adam Savage and get to hang out and build lots and lots of shit. What kind of shit? Who cares! And then I like to pretend, quite often, that I had a shop like his, because my apartment really is a terrible place to try and build messy things (no, I didn’t build my incubator in my apartment…)

Also, there’s the things like welding that just don’t go over well with the downstairs neighbors when you roll out your tig on the top-floor balcony. Extra space is all that jazz!

I learn new things

I love reading and learning new things. I have this delusion that I can actually know everything about everything. And I try, oh my God do I try! If it is science fiction, or fantasy, or non-fiction or academic I’m probably reading it. If it has to do with beer I’ve probably already read it.

YouTube and Wikipedia rabbit holes are one of my favorite pass times. Currently I’m in love with Khan Academy. The Internet truly is amazing!

Am I a snob?

In many more ways than one; I’m more than half German in ancestry which adds to the allure, I’m sure. But I’m not an asshole about it, I promise! Pay no attention to my face that looks like I’m ready to murder people! I’m a super nice snob who likes to share, I just can’t help that my face is sending people mixed messages (I am INTJ if you care to follow that). It usually doesn’t change its threatening shape for several encounters at least…. Just give my face some time, eventually you’ll see the signature Hoogen smile!

I’m a snob just because I know what I like, is all. How do I know? Because I try everything. And I will happily report that I prefer Tillamook to Kraft, pFriem Pilsner to Rainier Lager (although I love their commercials, being a NW native and all) and that I prefer a good, crusty loaf of Ken’s Artisan Bread to just about everything.

If we differ? To each their own. Everybody likes what they like. Who am I to tell people what they can and can’t like?

If I went around acting like Fred Phelps I’d be, well, an asshole. “Don’t be like Fred,” my mother used to say! Best advice if there ever was any.

Until next time,

Ciao