Web Excursions 2021-04-26

🌟 [Post of The Day] What Do We Want in a First Lady? | The New Yorker

  • Two new books

    • “Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight” (Random House), by Julia Sweig, a fellow at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, at the University of Texas at Austin, and

    • “The Triumph of Nancy Reagan” (Simon & Schuster), by Karen Tumulty, a Washington Post columnist

    • offer perspectives on the confusion of the public and the private, and of seriousness and sham, that is the First Ladyship.

  • there is no agreement on what a First Lady should be.

    • A President’s wife can be praised for being a doer and attacked for doing too much

    • She can be variously admired or targeted for breaking barriers

    • Some people prefer one First Lady to another because they prefer one Presidential husband to another.

    • Or they may condemn Mary Todd Lincoln because her personal difficulties meant that she didn’t do enough to support her husband, while condemning Melania Trump because she didn’t do enough to sabotage her husband.

    • An overarching question is how one can admire a First Lady who is part of an Administration one disdains.

    • On top of everything else, is it her job to make sure the President is good?

  • “beautification” is the word most associated with Lady Bird,

    • and in discussions of her legacy it can take on a sardonic ring,

    • as if it were no more than an attempt to adorn a disastrous decade with flowers

  • Vietnam wasn’t something that just happened to the Administration.

    • Precisely because so much of the First Lady operation is staged,

    • it can serve as a rebuke to the idea that any aspect of the Presidency can be neatly cordoned off.

  • Nancy was mocked for “the gaze”—the look of abject devotion she directed at her husband.

    • The adulation was real,

    • but it was expressed as constant worrying, fiddling, and arranging, rather than as deference.

    • It was Nancy who realized that the Iran-Contra affair presented a threat to the Presidency

  • Nancy became fixated on the idea that he would be safer if he travelled or held events on astrologically propitious days and hours.

    • Members of the staff might be told that Air Force One had to take off at exactly 2:11 A.M.

    • “Nobody was hurt by it—except possibly me,” Nancy wrote about the use of astrology, and the ensuing bad publicity.

    • Not quite: the astrological demands contributed to the burnout of White House staffers.

  • Nancy said that she thought the First Lady was, first and foremost, “a wife”—a word that substitutes one set of mysteries for another. What will it mean when a President has a husband or, for that matter, a nonbinary spouse?

  • Michael Deaver, a former White House aide, described getting a call

    • from a Republican representative who said, “Reagan would never have approved of stem-cell research!”

    • Deaver answered, “Ronald Reagan didn’t have to take care of Ronald Reagan for the last ten years.”


Step changes in ecommerce — Benedict Evans

  • If we treat [grocery sales] as a separate market, since it requires an entirely different logistics model, ecommerce is now half of UK retail.

  • The growth in US ecommerce in 2020 only took it two to three quarters ahead of the trend line. This was already happening anyway.

  • If the UK continues to have 50% or more higher adoption of e-commerce than the USA, that might have some very interesting consequences for start-up ecosystems, as well as physical retailers and commercial real estate, with all of the second and third order consequences that flow from that.

Source of mobility data referenced: COVID-19 Community Mobility Report

These Community Mobility Reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19.


Has UML died without anyone noticing? | Ernesto Garbarino

  • The revelation, to me, was the formal semantics surrounding UML Activity Diagrams

    • the informal Visio flowcharts because they were plagued with ambiguity.

    • UML addresses this problem by introducing clear and unambiguous semantics.

  • Maybe around 2015-ish,

    • I realised that I had pretty much stopped using UML,

    • and so had the rest of my peers and nearly every Fortune 500 customer I have consulted for recently.

  • UML was just collateral damage.

    • The massacre was in the entire requirements engineering field encompassing business analysis and design.

    • Agile was the assassin and user stories were her deadly, poisonous arrow heads (pun intended).

  • In a model in which you pour user stories into a sausage machine, and you get a demo at the end of it

    • there is no room for purposeful, structured problem analysis anymore.

  • In today’s brave new world, understanding is crystallised directly into production-ready code.

  • Today’s paradigm, though, is that we are hopeless at understanding the problem anyway.

    • we should deploy into production and let the users tell us what the business requirement is, rather than formulating it ourselves a priori

  • We have simply given up on business analysis and formal specifications

  • Most diagrams in use today, are what I call, somewhat derogatorily, masala diagrams

    • they are informal;

    • they cover multiple dimensions at once,

    • they may be both structural and behavioural, logical and physical.

    • They are often a mishmash of the 4+1 architectural model’s views.

  • at the organisational level, software isn’t being engineered any longer,

    • as per the equivalent processes and artifacts found in disciplines such as mechanical engineering

  • Masala diagrams have a role though

    • Their purpose is to evoke emotions.

HN

  • jdlyga, providing context: UML's promise was that that with detailed enough diagrams, writing code would be trivial or even could be automatically generated (there are UML tools that can generate code).

    • It was developed during a time when there was a push to make Software Engineering a licensed profession.

  • hintymad, providing anecdotes: IBM imagined that "business process experts" use UML to construct the entire business process,

    • and then the software will generate all the execution code, including deployment scripts.

    • The irony is that the UML itself becomes more complex than code,

      • and dozens of layers of exception trace were simply incomprehensible to engineers,

      • let alone to "business process experts".

  • karmasimida: That is why I am fundamentally skeptical with the current push for Low Code or even No Code. Seems like people just don't really learn from the past.

    • mikeappell, rebuking: There are aspects of coding which can be abstracted away, either because they're essentially boilerplate or because a simpler description of the solution is sufficient.