I first learned of The Martian via this Ars Technica article back in 2014. I was looking for a birthday present for my brother, and wanted something unique that was new and not your typical mass market novel.
After sitting down in Barnes & Noble to read a bit before purchasing, I quickly got sucked into the world of Mark Watney, and knew it would be a great gift.
Fast forward a few months and I started hearing rumors that The Martian was going to be made into a movie - talk about fast! It seems like the planets aligned at just the right time. There's been more and more momentum for NASA various programs over the past few years, what with the Mars rovers, the Cassini probe, and, most recently, the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
Have it say, it's an exciting time to be alive. As a total science fiction geek, it seems to me our progress to the stars is excruciatingly slow, but at least progress is being made!
And it's probably not what you think.
Let's think back to why some of the first colonists, as most Americans are taught in public school, left Europe for the New World in the first place: to escape from religious persecution.
That bears repeating:
To escape from religious persecution.
In other words, people of one religion were trying to tell other people what to do, what was right. This didn't go over too well with those who disagreed, hence why many people fled Europe for the New World.
There they could practice their own religion without being told by someone else what they can and can't do, simply because they are of a different religion, with different beliefs.
This means that one of the core principles behind the foundation of America and its "separation of church and state", was to prevent the people of one religion from controlling those of another. The government is a neutral entity (a nice ideal) that does not discriminate based on religion (or lack thereof) or a difference in beliefs.
So this absolute mess in Kentucky with a clerk (a government worker, who is supposed to be a neutral party) refusing to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her personal religious beliefs, is complete bullshit.
She is actively persecuting others based on her personal religious beliefs.
Why, again, did so many flee Europe for America those hundreds of years ago?
To escape religious persecution. To escape religious persecution.
It seems pretty clear cut to me, irregardless of whether you agree with the Kentucky clerk or not, that what she is doing is decidedly un-American.
Maybe in fifty years or so, we'll look back at this moment in time with amazement, surprised so many people didn't grasp such a simple concept.
Until then, it's just embarrassing.
There's been a disturbing trend in my business over the past couple of years - a significant decline in sales, now only about 35% of what they were just two years ago.
I can't blame anyone else for this, of course. Before I describe how this happened, and what I'm doing to fix it you'll probably need some context. The majority, easily 96% or more, of my income comes from software (I'm a third party developer of RapidWeaver addons), with a smidgen (but slowly increasing percentage) from reselling hosting services.
Since sales have reached an all-time low, and me now starting to worry about whether I'll be able to pay the mortgage next year, I've started digging into how exactly this happened rather than just attributing it to seasonal trends.
And that itself indicates one of the reasons why I find myself into this predicament. Rather that taking a periodic look at the state of my business (every month, say), I fell into the habit of thinking it was just because "summer is always slow", or "it'll pick up the next release I push out", etc.
Last week I also realized that I've been treating my business as if I've been hired solely to provide customer support. This means that while my business is now known for legendary support, other things suffered as a result. I fell into the trap of working on customer support first thing every day, and then thinking I was scott-free the rest of the day when I hit inbox zero.
Needless to say, a business is not purely customer support. Especially indie software businesses.
So, while I've been spoiled in the past with a fairly steady income coupled with a relatively minimal work requirement, that's no longer the case.
And since the mortgage still needs to get paid that means it's time to suck it up and get back to work.
In the second part to this post I'll go into more detail about how I'm tackling this issue.
Read this article which was reposted on Twitter via @ericlbarnes (and which he attributed to @jerelunruh). It has one of the best quotes I've seen in a while, and which I agree with:
[Developers] don't have a governing body to demand compliance (neither do we want one) so we must be guided by the desire to protect those who are trusting us.
EDIT: Another great one from the same article:
Approach everybody with respect and the initial assumption that they are doing their best.