Major releases are disasters, and should be avoided whenever possible

If you use semantic versioning in your project — and you should — then you fix bugs in patch releases (e.g. going from v2.4.6 to v2.4.7), and add new features in minor releases (e.g. from v2.4.6 to v2.5.0). These are both unambiguously good things to do: downstream projects that use your project can happily and blindly upgrade to your new versions knowing that everything is compatible and nothing will break.

But when you issue a new major release (e.g. from v2.4.6 to v 3.0.0), that’s because you made an incompatible change. Now the maintainers of downsteam packages have to stop and think and read your release notes before they can be confident whether it’s safe to upgrade, or whether (as with all the various React-related libraries’ major versions) they’re going to have to rewrite their code first. Most often, they won’t have the time or energy to do this for all the many dependencies their project has.

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How strange the change from major to minor … in Beatles songs

One of the characteristic tricks that crops up in Beatles songs is the use of major and minor chords on the same note. A lot of the Abbey Road album is built on movement between C, its relative minor of A minor, and its tonic major of A major. For example, George Harrison’s gorgeous song Something is mostly in C but modulates to A when the distinctive six-note guitar riff lands on a C# (the third of the A major chord) instead of C natural (the root of the C chord) to go into the middle section (“You’re asking me, will our love grow?”).

Today I want to look at two songs from the Rubber Soul album that both use the same trick of shifting directly from a major chord to its tonic minor, and see how they use that trick similarly and differently.

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Hulks (five different ones). Part 3: the 2003 Ang Lee movie

My friend and colleague Matt Wedel is not a fan of the 2003 Hulk movie. In an email exchange back in 2008, he classified all the then extant superhero movies into four bins and concluded: “You won’t be surprised to hear that I put Ang Lee’s Hulk in the fourth bin”. I was interested earier today to re-read my own response:

I don’t think it belongs in any of those bins. It belongs in bin i, which is at right-angles to the real-integer bins you’ve designated here.

And I think that verdict stands up pretty well. Hulk is simply not trying to do the same thing as other superhero films, and it’s a mistake to judge it a failure on the basis that it doesn’t do what other superhero films do.

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Labour must dump Jeremy Corbyn or lose all their Remainers

I get mailings from the optimistic Labour For a Public Vote group. Today, I wrote back. Here’s what I wrote.


Hi, Mike. Thanks for somehow finding the energy to push on with this very dispiriting task.

I have come reluctantly to the conclusion that nothing is going to change in Labour while Jeremy Corbyn is leader — that your party’s position will remain vague and spineless even while it haemhorrages support to the Lib Dems. (They look stronger now, not only due to the good local-election and Euro-election results, but because the potential remain-vote splitting of Change UK has not materialised.)

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Hulks (five different ones). Part 2: the TV series

I’m watching my way through the first series of The Incredible Hulk, mostly with Fiona. When I’m in the mood for an episode, I invariably invite her to join me in the following way: “Would you care to watch the terrible late-seventies Incredible Hulk TV series?” In part, I suspect I’m unconsciously aping both Andrew Rilstone’s habitual references to “the dreadful Torchwood and Bob the Angry Flower’s reference to “Mille Bornes, the terrible French card game“. But the thing is, it really is terrible.

And yet somehow we’re sort of enjoying it.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 30

In Defence of Fascism (Bob the Angry Flower) — Stephen Notley

I went back to the very first collection of Bob the Angry Flower comics, which is wildly uneven but contains some superb strips.

It takes a little while for Bob to find his voice, but by the eighth strip (BtAF Joins the Circus) it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and some of the later stripes are genuinely thought-provoking and funny — for example, The Puppet Master. A fine beginning, pointing to yet better collections to come … Continue reading

Hulks (five different ones). Part 1: the original comics

Recently, I’ve been going through a Hulk phase. I thought it would be interesting to compare five different manifestations of the Hulk: the original run of comics starting in the 1960s, the 1970s TV series, the 2003 Ang Lee film, the 2008 proto-MCU film, and the fully developed MCU Hulk. I’ll post each one separately. First, the comics.

The Hulk debuted in May 1962, and it took Marvel quite a while to get him right. Most famously, he was originally grey in the first issue before quietly becoming green. But there’s much more: this, for example, from issue 2 (The Terror of the TOAD MEN!):

What’s the matter, Hulk? Haven’t you heard of SMASH?

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