Christopher Buecheler's Blog: CWB Writing

September 4, 2017



1. That income tax cuts are good for poor, working and middle class people. (Compared to property tax and sales tax cuts, income tax cuts affect poor, working and middle class very little.)

2. That “they” – racial and ethnic minorities – benefit from social programs like welfare, housing subsidies, public transportation, and higher education, but “we” – white people – don’t. (Since there are LOTS more white people in America, even now, than “not white” people, simple math suggests most beneficiaries of social programs are white. And they are.)

3. That the “free market” can lead to the least expensive, highest quality solution to social and political problems. (Many social and political problems, after all, involve situations where no one has any money, so the “free market” has no reason to touch them.)

4. That the “free market” means that government must not intervene in the market, and must allow whatever the market determines to actually take place.(The “free market” requires government to pass laws, create courts, and run a stable banking system to make the market work smoothly.)

These four ideas have convinced millions of Americans to smile and wave as rich people rob them blind.


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Published on September 04, 2017 18:57 • 4 views

August 16, 2017

Spoils of a trip to France! (at Providence, Rhode Island)

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Published on August 16, 2017 14:03 • 3 views

August 5, 2017


contrary to social media developers’ beliefs i have literally never once wanted to see posts in anything other than chronological order

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Published on August 05, 2017 04:54 • 5 views

July 7, 2017

Tonight’s #cocktail … I don’t do anymore, but sometimes I still get fancy.

2.5 oz gin, .5 oz dry vermouth, .5 oz simple syrup infused with lemon thyme from our garden, chamomile bitters. (at Providence, Rhode Island)

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Published on July 07, 2017 17:50 • 10 views

June 24, 2017













what. why? someone pls explain to me pls i wasnt born yet in 1999 why turn computer off before midnight? what happen if u dont?

y2k lol everyone was like “the supervirus is gonna take over the world and ruin everything and end the world!!!”

This is the oldest I’ve ever felt. Right now.


Ahh the Millenium bug.

It wasn’t a virus, it was an issue with how some old computers at the time were programmed to deal with dates. Basically some computers with older operating systems didn’t have anything in place to deal with the year reaching 99 and looping around to 00. It was believed that this inability to sync with the correct date would cause issues, and even crash entire systems the moment the date changed.

People flipped out about it, convinced that the date discrepancy between netwoked systems would bring down computers everywhere and shut down the internet and so all systems relying on computers, including plane navigation etc. would go down causing worldwide chaos. It was genuinely believed that people should all switch off computers to avoid this. One or two smart people spoke up and said “um hey, this actually will only effect a few very outdated computers and they’ll just display the wrong date, so it probably won’t be harmful” but were largely ignored because people selling books about the end of the world were talking louder.

In the end, absolutely nothing happened.

Oh gosh.

I’ve been a programmer working for various government agencies since the early 1990s and I can say with some confidence:


One example I personally worked on: vaccination databases.

My contract was with the CDC to coordinate immunization registries — you know, kids’ vaccine histories. What they got, when they got it, and (most importantly) which vaccines they were due to get next and when. These were state-wide registries, containing millions of records each.

Most of these systems were designed in the 1970s and 1980s, and stored the child’s DOB year as only two digits. This means that — had we not fixed it — just about every child in all the databases I worked on would have SUDDENLY AGED OUT OF THE PROGRAM 1-JAN-2000.

In other words: these kids would suddenly be “too old” to receive critical vaccines.

Okay, so that’s not a nuke plant exploding or airplanes dropping from the sky. In fact, nothing obvious would have occurred come Jan 1st.


Without the software advising doctors when to give vaccinations, an entire generation’s immunity to things like measles, mumps, smallpox (etc) would have been compromised. And nobody would even know there was a problem for months — possibly years — after.

You think the fun & games caused by a few anti-vaxers is bad?

Imagine whole populations going unvaccinated by accident… one case of measles and the death toll might be measured in millions.

This is one example I KNOW to be true, because I was there.

I also know that in the years leading up to 2000 there were ad-hoc discussion groups (particularly alt.risk) of amazed programmers and project managers that uncovered year-2000 traps… and fixed them.

Quietly, without fanfare. 

In many cases because admitting there was a problem would have resulted in a lawsuit by angry customers. But mostly because it was our job to fix those design flaws before anyone was inconvenienced or hurt.

So, yeah… all that Y2K hysteria was for nothing, because programmers worked their asses off to make sure it was for nothing.

Bolding mine.

Absolutely true.  My Mom worked like crazy all throughout 1998 and 1999 on dozens of systems to avoid Y2K crashes. Nothing major happened because people worked to made sure it didn’t.

Now if we could just harness that concept for some of the other major issues facing us today.  

this meme came so far since i saw it this morning. god i love tumblr teaching tumblr about history.

As a young Sys Admin during Y2K, I can confirm that it was SRS BZNS.  I worked for a major pharmaceutical company at the time.  They spent millions of dollars on consultant and programmer hours, not to mention their own employees’ time, to fix all their in-house software as well as replace it with new systems.  Sys Admins like myself were continually deploying patches, updating firmware, and deploying new systems in the months leading up to Y2K.  Once that was done, though, the programmers went home and cashed their checks.

When the FATEFUL HOUR came along, it wasn’t just one hour.  For a global company with offices in dozens of countries, it was 24 hours of being alert and on-call.  I imagine that other large organizations had similar setups with entire IT departments working in shifts to monitor everything.  Everyone was on a hair trigger, too, so the slightest problem caused ALL HANDS ON DECK pages to go out.

Yes, we had pagers.

For hard numbers IDC’s 2006 calculation put the total US cost of remediation, before and after, at $147 billion - that’s in 1999 dollars.  That paid for an army of programmers, including calling up retired grandparents from the senior center because COBOL and FORTRAN apps from the ‘60s needed fixing.

Also note that there were some problems, including $13 billion in remediation included in the figure above.  Some of these involved nuclear power plants, medical equipment, and “a customer at a New York State video rental store had a bill for $91,250, the cost of renting the movie ‘The General’s Daughter’ for 100 years.”

Y2K was anything but nothing.


tfw you do your job so fucking well that everyone thinks you weren’t necessary in the first place :(

salute our COBOL cowpokes and other Y2K wranglers, they saved all our asses

another important lesson we learned: a shitload of stuff in the ‘90s was still running programs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. it’s hard to justify the expense and trouble of a massive upgrade when things are working “fine” – easier to say “well, I suppose we’ll need to change at some point, but not now”

and if things really are working “fine” you can let them go on for a while but every so often you run into something like Y2K where the software simply wasn’t designed to handle certain eventualities. can’t really blame the programmers, either. if you were writing shit in the ‘60s, would you expect people to still be using it in the science-fiction year of 2000? that’s not a real year! you might be dead by then!

so, y’know, you don’t always need the latest and greatest for everything you’re doing – how much power do you really need for an inventory system? – but regular upgrades are a Good Idea

Props to every single person who worked their asses off to make Y2K “that thing where nothing happened and it wasn’t a big deal.” Those of us who’ve been working in tech since the 90s or earlier see you, respect you, love you, and thank you.

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Published on June 24, 2017 22:15 • 4 views

June 10, 2017

June 7, 2017

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Published on June 07, 2017 20:21 • 4 views

May 17, 2017


I see a lot of positivity posts about 12-year-olds just learning to draw.  Posts cautioning us to be mindful of 11-year-olds with no grasp of anatomy and 13-year-olds whose characters are all the same person with different hair and clothes, and I love those posts.  Those are great posts.  Keep those posts coming, tumblr.

But can I ask, what about the 25-year-old who just bought their first ever sketchbook?  What about the 32-year-old who’s been drawing for a month and has just about got the hang of a human-looking face?  What about the 67-year-old who finally has time to sit down and learn how to paint like they’ve always wanted?

Not everyone starts drawing as a child.  Not everyone learned as a preteen.  Some people start in college.  Some people start when their career is going well and they feel like it’s time for a new hobby.  Some people start after they’ve retired.

Not all beginner artists are kids, and I just think the adults ones deserve some encouragement, too.

This also applies to writers, actors, engineers, sailors … you name it. It’s never too late to learn something new, and there’s no shame in being not-particularly-good at the start, no matter your age.

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Published on May 17, 2017 20:49 • 4 views

April 4, 2017

About 4.5 months ago, I wound down all of my freelance work and went full-time on my own startup, CloseBrace LLC. I’m proud to announce that today, I launched CloseBrace’s flagship website, a tutorial and resource site for JavaScript developers. The site launched with the first seven tutorials in our “Five Minute React” series, which will detail how to build a Node.js API, connect a React.js front-end to it, and get it all up and running on a server. I hope you’ll check the site out, and stick around if it seems useful to you!

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Published on April 04, 2017 12:47 • 20 views

January 29, 2017


Reminder: It took the Tea Party movement two years to bring Obama’s presidency to a screeching halt. They rode in on a massive electoral wave in 2010 because they were pissed off, organized, and put candidates up themselves if they didn’t find the current one good enough. Remember when RINO was everywhere? They weren’t just made of Republicans, and they weren’t just a new bunch of upset moderates, they were often right-wing fringers (The John Birch Society made a real comback) who decided to get active. They drove the GOP to the hard right and won big in the process.

But it didn’t just happen in 2010; they had serious effects even before then when Democrats controlled the House and Senate. The effects started when they did, when they started rallying, organizing, making phone calls, and finding new candidates. They convinced Democrats and moderate Republicans they’d lose their seats if they didn’t block everything the president was trying to do, be it in a general or primary election.

Most of all, they got out and voted in midterms, where the national turnout is worst, and fewer voters have a massive impact.

The left has the ability to do every bit of this. Not only is the left up in arms, but so are moderates. The current administration is already underwater on approval ratings and continues to drop. Now is when the process starts. Rallies, marches, protests, and phone calls put pressure on congress, and that’s where shit gets done. Phone calls to Republicans will remind them that they’re vulnerable (yes, even in gerrymandered districts - they’re made with safe margins but not absolute ones). Phone calls to Democrats do the same; sitting Democrats know the threat of a primary challenge after watching what happened to the GOP.

If the left makes it clear that it’s not going to forget about midterms for once, then the changes can start well before the election.

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Published on January 29, 2017 19:56 • 8 views

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Christopher Buecheler
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