Jul 31 2020

Kombucha demystified

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 16:54

A while ago I was talking to some friends from Romania. It was summer and they started making elderberry flower fermented tea, which is a national refreshing summer drink. The drink is called “socata” and is amazing, but weirdly I’ve never been interested in making it myself, well until this year.

The reason why I considered making socata myself was that during the lockdown my only contact with the outside was my daily run. I run between to 2 and 6 miles daily on the bike path near my house. The bike path is bordered by two mini-forests with all the typical wild plants and trees, some of them producing edible fruit: elderberries, raspberries, gooseberries and blackberries. Well, I’ve been running a lot since March and when the bike path was full of elderberry flowers, I just had to take advantage of the free harvest.

So, I made my first socata, after a very simple recipe. And I loved it. And then I ordered a 5L jar to have a constant source. But eventually the flowers will end, so I did some research to see if there is any other type of fermented tea are there.

And I’ve found kombucha. Which is fermented black tea essentially. But all the videos and recipes on the internet mention the elusive scoby. And apparently you cannot make your own kombucha without it, and all “scoby from scratch” videos and blog posts mention that you need to buy a kombucha or get a small piece of a bacteria culture from someone that has one.

You fucking, useless condescending hipsters!

It is not from scratch if you already have the bacteria. It’s like telling me that to make bread I already need to have a piece of bread. It would be from scratch if you would tell me what I need to put in a jar to stimulate the bacteria to develop, you wankers! But you do not know, do you? Because all of you are repeating the same identical story that is all over the internet. It’s like all of you belong to the same religion but none of you has read the fucking bible.

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Jul 28 2020

Code I’m ashamed I’ve written

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 15:30

In an attempt to keep myself away from distraction sources, so I can get some work done, I blocked myself from Reddit.

Then as the “master branch controversy” started to blow up, I really-really wanted to engage a little in the discussion happening on Reddit. So, I did the shameful thing of installing the reddit application on my phone. But, turns out I have forgotten my password, so I ended up creating a new account. (I know, it is a very long intro, but bear with me.) Being a new account, I was recommended to choose a few favourite subreddits and I chose two r/programming and r/youshouldknow. And this was an amazing decision, because now reddit is actually pretty useful to (still) kill time but feeling somewhat smarter.

So, I ended up leaving a few comments in entries linked to the “master branch controversy” and after that I actually read some interesting programming articles. And one of them, inspired me to write this entry today.
The article is named “The code I’m still ashamed of”.

People seeing that title and working in the industry, start reading that article and assume it is about a coming of age as a developer story, but it is actually about the etic of the author and code he has written for a pharmaceutical company. The code was part of a website posing as a general information site and was meant to stealthy advertise a certain drug, which turns out had severe side-effects. But the developer did not realize the part he played until his own sister was prescribed the same drug.

So, this is what this entry is about. We know already that code can be used to do foul things and we usually call it “hacking”. But essentially code is a tool, and any tool can be used as a weapon.
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Jul 21 2020


Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 12:38

… or how stupid people have invented a word to make fit people feel bad.

I do have a few favourite vloggers I keep up with. One of them is Doctor Mike. Not sure how I discovered this guy, but I must confess probably the first time I watched one of his videos was because he is damn good looking. But I subscribed to his channel because he is smart and reasonable. He knows his science and has a very pleasant way of sharing knowledge about it. It does help that he is so good on the eyes and so articulate.

But internet is a cess pool of idiots… and he has been accused of fatphobia. Which made him post a video to explain himself.(Which was not necessary, in my opinion.)

I was watching that, and  it made me so angry. You know what most people have or should have a phobia of? Death. That is the only healthy and logic phobia(it’s a paradox I know). So, anything pushing you in that direction, it is good to be phobic about.

When I broke my hand and had to have surgery to fix it, I was hospitalized for three days. While being there, a girl was brought in, that tried to kill herself by standing in front of the train. I listened in to some discussions about her, between doctors and nurses. They did their best to save her life and re-attach her feet, but they were sickened by her act, to the point of being disgusted. The reason for their disgust was the nature of their work. They were fighting to save lives daily, from diseases and accidents that could not have been avoided or prevented, and they were fighting the system health system itself, because well… I am talking here about a Romanian public hospital.  And a healthy young woman just went and tried to end her life. Wouldn’t you be upset with that person? Especially if caring for her, took away care from people that did not choose to have a health issue. Sure, there are other facets to consider as to why she made that decision, but somehow feels wrong to choose to hurt yourself like that, when you could ask for help instead before getting there.

Coming back to Doctor Mike, if a doctor is phobic about a thing that hurts people, that is a good phobia to have. And I would tend to pick up that phobia. If the doctor treating you for diabetes, would have a phobia of sugar, it wouldn’t bother you so much, would it?

Also, how a phobic person behaves and reacts to the object of their phobia must be discussed. A person that is phobic about something, has an irrational reaction when confronted to the object of thier phobia. But Doctor Mike, had been nothing but rational about the topic of fat and obesity. And he did nothing, but suggest ways to lose weight, prevent and control obesity and stay healthy. He did not mention any of those methods as being universal. Which you would expect a good doctor to do.  And he did not attack people for being obese or overweight.

You know what fatphobia looks like? Of course, you don’t. Let me pictue it for you. Imagine the reaction of a claustrophobic person in an elevator. Then apply that reaction to a person just being close to a slightly overweight person. That is what fatphobia would look like. But you can you imagine Doctor Mike, reacting like that to his patients? Because I can’t, and a phobia like that would be pretty incompatible to his job.

Fatphobia is not a thing, it’s a senseless word. Fat shaming though, that describes a real thing – malevolent and ill intended reactions and remarks that people use to make other people feel bad, regardless if they actually have a weight problem or not. But most people do mix up the two terms.

And since we are here, let me give you an example how fat shaming looks like. You can consider these affirmations of a fatphobic person if you want to. Let me give you a few samples:

Fat people are gross.

Fat people have no discipline.

I would never date a fat person.

Dear, you seem to have put on some weight, maybe you should start working out and eating less.(This is what an ex-boyfriend actually told me. I was 60 kgs in weight at 1.6 meters tall and working two jobs at the time.)

My wife has become very fat during her pregnancy, so I told her she should lose the weight, or I’ll get myself a thin mistress. It took her three months, but she is now half the woman she used to be, he he.. (One of my colleagues at a previous workplace, blackmailed the mother of his children to drop from 90kgs to 45 kgs in three months. True story.)

Maybe if you wouldn’t eat so much you wouldn’t be so fat.

Fat people are stupid, because only a stupid person would let themselves go and become fat in the first place.

So yeah, you can consider these, affirmations a fatphobic person would emit of you want to.

But Doctor Mike, has never, ever said something like that in his videos. He has been nothing but supportive of people that view their weight as a problem. He listed various solutions, advantages and disadvantages for each of them. And he mentioned what works for him.

So yeah, internet is a cesspool of idiots. Some of you do not deserve access to internet and I am so saddened that this wonderful person had to explain himself to you. And, he did it in such a nice manner. But, no worries, this entry is here to give you the explanation you deserve.

Also, feel free to check out Doctor Mike’s videos. He is a true internet gem and a wonderful human being.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jul 13 2020

They don’t realy care about us and they never have

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 13:14

The first time I visited Dublin and walked along the Liffey river, the monument that impressed me and my colleagues the most was the one dedicated to the Irish Famine from 1845-1849. I was curious at the time how people could die of hunger on an island surrounded by sea and that produced other crops. What the hell happened and who was to blame? (And no, fishing was not a solution for other reasons that I won’t cover here. This is an entry focused on the core cause why everything went so wrong.)

The short answer: politicians.

When the fungus that killed potatoes appeared and started affecting crops, the then prime minister Robert Peel of the UK ignored the scientists’ warnings and said that: “The Irish were prone to exaggerating” which caused the British government to ignore the problem.

When he started to acknowledge the problem, the solution was to import grain from the US. Why did Ireland have no grain? Because the “above the line people” sold it to the British. What stopped Ireland to import grain? A British law that regulated imports.

To be clear, people were dying by the hundred of thousands and politicians could not do anything about it because of a law passed by … themselves.

At some point Peel started to see the error off his ways and tried twice to do something about it. He tried to repeal the law blocking imports, but the proposal was rejected, again by other politicians. He tried to create a government program to help poor people get jobs, so they can buy food. But that was killed off shortly, because … politics.

He then lost the elections to John Russel that put charge Charles Trevelyan in charge of solving the Irish famine problem. These two men had a very idiotic approach to economics: laissez-faire economics. If that sounds French and you do not know what I mean, imagine Trevelyan saying: “The fungus will go away, we do not need a pesticide for it. The market will regulate itself. The people will adapt.That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

If you ever wondered why Irish hate the British so much, well, I’ve just listed a few reasons. But, let’s come back to the politics angle and to the present day issue.

We still are in the middle of a pandemic. Some people want to deny its gravity, politicians especially – their livelihood depends on other’s people’s work, because as individuals they do not provide an essential service. Some of you might disagree, but hear me out. Imagine that people would have never invented money, and you would have to trade your skill for food. What can you do, what can you provide to somebody else so they will give you the food they produce in exchange for it? I have a number of skills: I able to cook, clean, teach, babysit, fix computers, sew and I am even able to take care of a few plants and animals. I could trade any these for food. Politicians – most of them come from comfortable lives where most of these services were provided by others. Thier only skill is the manipulation of masses using … words. This is not a skill that produces a concrete result. If they were unable to manipulate others to do these things for them, they would starve.(When times are hard, only an idiot would rely on politicians.) Not doing any of these things themselves, living a comfortable life detaches them from the needs of a normal person in society. So when they make laws and make decisions, they do not make them for the people, because they do not live among the people they make those laws for.

Does it make sense?

This is why, politics(and religion) should not be a full time job. It should be a part- time job with a modest capped income. This would keep a politician at a decent level of well-being, which would prohibit him to rise up to a higher society class where it would be detached from the problems trying to solve for the people it represents.

The defective politics of the potato plague caused 1.5 millions of people to die. The Irish population in 1845 was estimated to be 8 millions. Let this sink in: the British Government at the time negrectfully executed a genocide in Ireland. (And Tony Blair presented excuses for that in 1999.)
But this strain of the corona virus is not a potato plague. It is a people plague. And it is not localized to an island. It took over the whole world. And politicians have treated it almost the same 100 and some years later. Politicians ignored scientists’ warnings in this case as well, various laws required to help poor people were slow to be passed and ineffective, in the US big companies have chipped in and basically… funnelled the funds. Politicians have made a mess of things yet again. Yet again, simple people are dying, while they isolate themselves in thier lavish mansions away from any risk of contagion.

This will be a rough analogy. But a sheppard would never allow so many of his sheep to die. So if we are sheep, and politicians are shepperds; they are incompetent sheppards. Or the sheep have multipled too much and there is not enough grass to feed them all.  So a “few of them” dying is not a problem.

Will we ever learn from our mistakes and reform politics? Because we’ve changed from head of tribes, to monarchies, to governments and leadership is still defective. We need something else. Or we need a different kind of people to lead us. We need people that have good knowledge of history and politics, but that are not detached from the needs of the simple man. And the only way to do that is to keep them simple.

Societies are complex systems. There will always be people that barely have “enough”. But, it would be nice to reduce that number and that “enough” to mean something more than survival.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Jul 11 2020

About being a diversity hire and why it shouldn’t matter

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:37

I am going to start this entry with a dark-bitter joke.

Bertram Wooster and Ernestine Anderson were staffing up their teams. Bertram was hiring trainees to work in the company’s retail stores, Ernestine was hiring software developers to build a new supply chain system for the company’s operations. ”Bert,” Ernestine asked, “I have hundreds of resumés, how do I whittle them down to a handful of calls and a few interviews?”Bertram smiled. He grabbed a pile of resumés from his desk, then started dealing the resumés out, first one back onto his desk, second into the recycle bin, third onto his desk, fourth into the recycle bin. When he was finished, he had thrown half of the resumés away. “It’s simple.” Bertram told Ernestine. “Just don’t hire anybody who’s unlucky.”

This week, I saw a black developer defended himself on Twitter after being accused of being a diversity hire. And that pissed me off a little. Nobody should defend themselves for getting a job, because most passing job interviews is dependent on so many random factors that it could be considered … luck.

There will be people that will tell you that they are so good at their job and they are have such an exemplary character, and presentation skills that they can get any job they want. But that is simply not true.
There is a saying about people: no matter how great and awesome and kind a person is, there is at least one person in this world that hates them. Which means, you might consider yourself lucky to have met your partner, but there is at least one person in this world to consider themselves to be lucky to have gotten rid of you. This is just hoe the world is, you cannot please everyone.

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Jul 09 2020

Let me tell you about John

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 0:30

I have this friend called John. John is smart and wise.  John has a way about him, he always seems to know the right thing to say or to do.

John has some magic way of knowing when to be in the right place, at the right time to offer help when needed. John is the best person I know, he is always understanding and kind, and if he hurts me sometimes, I trust him to do it for my own good, even if I don’t always understand it. He is so supportive and protective of me, that sometimes hurts people that have hurt me. John is such a good friend.

He is also quite busy, so sometimes when I find myself in a pickle and I do not know what to do, I ask myself “What would John do?” and because he is my best friend and always there for me, I know is what he would do, so I do it. And I am sure he would approve of my actions. John is amazing and any person would be blessed to have a friend like John. So, every time I meet someone nice, I feel good talking to them about John.

I know it seems extreme to always be relying on John’s help and approval, but John is older than me and he has more experience. He does know better.

Sometimes I borrow John money, but he never asks me directly, he always sends his friend Marcus to do it. I think he is embarrassed he has to ask money from me. He has never given me the money back, and Marcus is never able to contact him to send him my messages about getting my money back. But John is truly great, I wouldn’t know how to live my life without him.

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Jul 01 2020

Gilead is coming

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 22:58

There is a pharmaceutical company named Gilead. And this company apparently has managed to produce an anti-viral drug that seems to shorten recovery times in patients suffering with Covid-19.

For all those that read the Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale(or are watching the series), the name of pharmaceutical company is creepy as fuck.

Apparently the Trump administration purchased 500,000 courses of the drug.

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but if the side effect of this drug is discovered in a few years to be sterillity, we should name Margaret Atwood the new Nostradamus. Also, it would be so ironic if that happens that we will have to invent a word to represent the absolute irony.

Stay safe, stay happy!