RE: Rails, It Turns Out I’m Just an Idiot, Not A Moron

Or vice versa.

About a week ago I wrote and deleted a fairly whiny post about how I was trying to write a simple Rails application and just didn’t get it. I mean, I could generate scaffolding and stuff, like any chimp could, but every time I tried to do anything in the least bit off-the-beaten path, I’d end up in a morass.

Having taken a little time off I started messing around with a simple rails app again, and needed to look something up, and I couldn’t find it in the api documentation or googling around, so I grabbed my ancient (1st edition) Agile Web Development with Rails book, and checked out the index. Ah, there was what I needed, on page X Y and Z.

In the midst of reading those pages I realized I had never really taken advantage of that book at all.

See, the first umpteen chapters of the book are a tutorial, where you follow along, they say do this and do that, and you are supposed to go “wow, it sure looks easy, of course, I’m not learning anything except what to do if I happen to want to build exactly what they are building in the tutorial example.”

I’d only made it through a few chapters before tossing the book aside as useless, because that sort of thing doesn’t help me at all. I can’t follow along and not understand what’s going on. I want to know what’s going on, how things work, first, and then I may be able to get something useful out of an example or tutorial.

There is basically no useful way (for me at least) to learn Rails on the web. All you have are these whizz-bang follow-along tutorials, which don’t ever give you a complete picture of what’s going on, and the API documentation, which is useful as a reference but horribly painful to try to learn from. It’s hell or high water — either handwaving la-la on the one hand, or details so nitty-gritty that you’ve got to be a lot more of a propellerhead than I am to use them for learning.

Anyone who’s got the Rails book I mentioned can already see why I’m an idiot. It turns out that the latter half of the book, after all that whizz-bang la-la tutorial, is exactly what I needed. It sets out very clearly and comprehensibly what all the various parts of Rails are, how they fit together, what you can do with them, giving you enough details to clearly understand what you can do with each piece, but organizing those details into a comprehensible presentation.

And I’ve owned this book the whole time and I didn’t realize that it contained exactly what I needed to have to learn Rails.

So I’m not a moron who can’t learn what’s supposed to be the easiest web framework in the world in my favorite language in the world, I’m an idiot who was trying to learn it with all the wrong resources. Or vice versa.

I’m glad I got that sorted out.

rms: I Hate Babies

The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Richard Stallman — Edward O’Connor:

Usually when people post negative things about Richard Stallman, I read them and think they’re silly, and go on admiring the guy. This “reproduction is evil and antisocial” thing of his, though — OK, you got me. I’m with you on that one. Touché.

Funny thing is — the comments section is full of people who agree with him and hate babies and the people who have them too. I guess the one point where I really do have a problem with rms is the point where a huge geek-horde are in total agreement with him.

A Little Too Demonstrative

1998 article from Dallas Morning News:

SAN ANTONIO — They came thinking they’d spend a month swimming, sleeping late, hanging out — all without parents nearby to nag.

They didn’t know that by 5 a.m., their young hearts would be racing from pre-dawn calisthenics; that their biceps would bulk up from hitting the ground and doing 50 every time they messed up; that being a leader would mean taking the heat for those out of line; and that aching muscles and tired bones would yearn for lights out at 11 p.m.

And they hadn’t counted on counting on God to get them through 32 tough days of physical training, manual labor and studying.

It wasn’t the vacation they expected. It was something much more. […]

Charles Flowers started the Christian Boot Camp four years ago to show at-risk teen-age boys that “God has led them to be mighty people on Earth.” Flowers left the United States Air Force after 12 years to start the program at Faith Outreach Center, a nondenominational church where he is an associate pastor.

The camp, which Flowers believes is the only one of its kind in the country, grew from 26 boys the first summer to 120 this year. The girls’ camp, which ended July 4, is in its second year.

2007 article from Houston Chronicle:

BANQUETE — Arrest warrants have been issued for two officials at a Christian boot camp accused of dragging a 15-year-old girl behind a van after she fell behind the group during a morning run, authorities said.

Charles Eugene Flowers and Stephanie Bassitt of San Antonio-based Love Demonstrated Ministries, a 32-day boot camp, are facing aggravated assault charges for the alleged June 12 incident.

The two were accused of tying the girl to the van with a rope then dragging her, according to an arrest affidavit filed Wednesday by the Nueces County Sheriff’s Department. Arrest affidavits for Flowers and Bassitt list a $100,000 bond.

A call to Love Demonstrated Ministries was not immediately returned today. No listing was found for Bassitt. An answering machine at a listing for Flowers cut off during an attempt to leave a message today.

Flowers, the camp’s director, allegedly ordered Bassitt to run alongside the girl after she fell behind, the affidavit said. When the girl stopped running, Bassitt allegedly yelled at her and pinned her to the ground while Flowers tied the rope to her, according to the affidavit.

The girl’s mother gave investigators photos of her daughter’s injuries that were taken at a hospital where the girl was treated and a sworn statement from a witness who claimed to see the girl being dragged on her stomach at least three times.

You win if you weren’t surprised by the 2007 article after reading the excerpt from the 1998 article.

Hope that doesn’t sound “crazy”!

I just got a very polite, well-written, and genuinely friendly message about my criticisms of Bush and the war. The writer implied that my time in Hollywood had impaired my critical thinking. He also, with a wink and a shrug, said he was one of those “crazies” who supported the troops, but was also for the war.

Patton shreds the guy’s message, based on his own discussions with veterans of the war, and concludes:

And yes, being “for the troops” and “for the war” is not only crazy, it’s retarded.

Guess what? I support my grandma. But I’m also 100% behind the cancer that’s killing her. Hope that doesn’t sound “crazy”.

Jesus Christ.