November 25th, 2008


I guess it's now official

The term "Black Friday" has been in common use for at least 20 years now, as the common slang for the day after Thanksgiving, when stores get deluged by shoppers. It's the day every store prays for and dreads: when things get chaotic and uncontrollable, but the sales get really great.

So I'm fascinated that this year, for the first time that I recall, the term seems to have become overt and universal. The email flyers we're getting have pretty consistently stopped saying "Day After Thanksgiving", and simply have "Black Friday" in their subject lines, as if that were a national holiday unto itself. I'm not sure whether that reflects wishful thinking or gallows humor...

There are moments when I realize that I'm really a Silverwing

I sometimes talk about the fact that I perceive code aesthetically. When I talk about code being "pretty" or "elegant" or "ugly", I don't mean that in a metaphorical sense: I mean that my *emotional* reaction is much the same as looking at a work of art or listening to music. I suspect that most truly serious craftsmen must have the same sense, whether one's art is piano, sculpture or (in my case) software.

What I don't usually mention is that I have much the same reaction to Law. One of the reasons I come across as being down on Law so often is that so much of it is *ugly*: lopsided, inelegant and hackish, thrown together in haste without thinking through the consequences. It hurts me just as much as listening to bad rap music or looking at ill-conceived paintings on velvet.

I'm reminded of this this morning because I'm looking over a contract, and have the rare reaction of, "That's really elegant". It's well-written, clear, complete, and scrupulously fair to both sides. So many contracts in this business are dreadful things that assume that the parties are adversaries, so they write in all sorts of adversarial language, trying to protect one side completely and to hell with the other. Seeing one that's strict but genuinely neutral, holding both parties to reasonable terms, expressing what amounts to a philosophical point in legal language, is an absolute joy by comparison.

I may have to find out who their lawyers are. I probably can't afford them, but I want them in my pocket in case I'm eventually successful enough to do so...