What’s going on at Occupy Wall Street

Anyone who can work in two in-context Monty Python references deserves to be read.

By the way, while Wall Street may be responsible for bad things, it is Wall Street who financed putting a million miles of fiber optic cables crisscrossing continents and under oceans. It is Wall Street that financed the thousands of cell towers. It is Wall Street from which venture capital comes to finance startups like Twitter. Thus, tweeting “Down with capitalism” from your iPhone for those around the word to read seems to be the most ironic thing a person can do. The live stream from the protest site, shared with 12,000 (at this moment) people across the Internet is a testament to Wall Street’s allocation of capital that these protesters fight against. [Obligatory Monty Python reference]

That the protest is dominated by Internet savvy youths exploiting social media is frequently mentioned. But what is not mentioned is the fact that the protesters are overwhelmingly college students, or recent graduates who still haven’t found jobs. They aren’t just any college students, but the stereotypical sort that you might expect to be involved in campus activism, such as graduate students in “Gender Studies.” I found nobody with engineering or science degrees, but many from arts and acting colleges. After talking with one guy for a while about unemployment and his difficult in finding a job after college, I found out that he was a “poet.” I’m not sure he understood that employers aren’t looking to hire poets. The only person I met that had a political science degree was one of the police officers “keeping the peace.”

Errata Security: Independent reporting of #OccupyWallStreet

Initial thoughts on Python and Django

In an effort to learn a new skill and get some much needed exposure to another programming language, I’ve started learning Python.  Its a very neat language, and its use of whitespace to organize code pleases the code style nazi that Sandy has instilled in me.  Reading the code itself, its refreshing how uncluttered it can be without curly braces, dollar signs, and semi-colons all about. It takes a little getting used to, as I do find myself looking for braces to delineate a function definition, or an if-block, and still litter an occasional end of line with a semi-colon.

I’ve learned how to use exceptions to handle errors, which out of habit and lack of necessity I haven’t used in PHP.  I haven’t gotten beyond a simple procedural program yet, but there’s a lot of power under the hood in all the libraries available for python.

As a result, I’ve been reading up, and doing the online tutorials for the Django framework.  I chose Django after reading Please Teach me Web Frameworks for Python!, and the comments for that entry.  TurboGears was highly recommended, but three things steered me towards the former.  First, Django seems to be a more integrated suite of components (DB/ORM, Templating, Controllers), while TurboGears lets you pick and use a "Best-of-breed" component, defined by you.  Second, Django provides a useful admin application for free, which you’ll be very impressed with if you follow the tutorial.  Last, but not least, the Django book, available for free online, was a very accesible, easy to read, and informative resource for learning about the different components and how they work together.  I wish more web application frameworks, particularly the one we use at work, had such good introductory documentation for orienting new developers.

I haven’t gotten very far with Django yet, but I do plan on using it for my next online project.  I recommend you look at it too.

Put your beagle to work – snake edition

Instead of letting him sleep all day and generally lounge about, your beagle could be hunting pythons in the everglades with Python Pete. This can only end in tragedy when Pete ends up as a hungry python’s mid-afternoon snack.

For the past few months Lori Oberhofer, an Everglades wildlife
technician, has been training her seven-month-old puppy to pick up the
scent of the invasive Burmese pythons.