Every now and then a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths

This is a fun response from this Ask Polly Q&A:

“Your in-laws are next-level, off-the-charts batshit.

Every now and then, a group of people assumes the traits and behaviors of sociopaths. Maybe one person in the group completely and permanently lost their doughnuts several decades prior, and slowly, each member of the group learns that playing along with this singular menace is the only way to survive. Eventually, the members of the group are so utterly confused and gaslit by each other that they enforce the will of the group and nod along with bizarre opinions until they can’t even remember what it means to think logically or have free will or behave like other regular human beings on the face of the planet.

Because these people are confused and weak and angry — and because they’re rendered increasingly more confused, weak, and angry by their exposure to each other — they tend to have less and less contact with those outside the group. And when they do encounter someone who’s not in the fold, they recoil and attack. Anyone who questions the group is attacked with words and actions. Anyone who questions the group is bad, and the group is good.”

Such a disappointing feeling when a book is a letdown

I just spent 45 minutes reading a new book about a programming language I was excited to learn, then slammed it shut and said, “Poorly organized, too many words, not enough code.”

That’s always such a disappointing feeling when you have that initial excitement about a programming language (or technology), and then a book is such a letdown. (I really hope people don’t view my books that way.)

Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement.

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

~ Winston Churchill

My preferred writing environment

When working from home, my preferred writing environment is to use a huge fixed-width font on a large monitor with a matte finish, and nothing else on the screen. I write my text using either Markdown or LaTeX, depending on what the output format is going to be. And Yoda and Meditating Guy make me feel a little less crazy when I’m talking to myself. ;)

Don’t objectify me (on writing and writing style)

Sometimes people write to tell me that they like my writing style, that I’m good at explaining things. Other people write and say that if they wrote a book, they would have written it just like mine.

The truth is, when I first started working with Scala I fell in love with the language, so wanting to write about it was easy. After that, I’m not that smart, so I have to break complex things down so I can understand them myself. So I think that by breaking things down and looking for meaningful examples, people seem to appreciate what I’ve written (or I hope they do).

After I wrote the Scala Cookbook and people sent me notes like that, I struggled with writing for a little while. Then I decided to just try to write for a younger version of myself and ignore what other people were saying. I just ask myself, “Would this have helped Al 2+ years ago?” Since then I’ve been fine.