Monthly Archives: March 2015

I Disagree with you, SO I HOPE YOUR CHILDREN DIE!!!

In case you missed it, Dolce and Gabbana got into trouble recently for airing some controversial views about gay couples and children.

Okay, fine, big deal.

Well, apparently it was! Worthy of boycotts and ceremonial burning of D&G clothing in the street!

This is another instance of disturbingly familiar behaviour, which has seen many people (usually women) subjected to horrific abuse and even death threats!

Whatever happened to a simple “I disagree with you” or “Oh? Why do you think that?” This isn’t even something new; how many times has this happened? How many times have talking heads said “it’s terrible, people shouldn’t behave like that”? Yet it happens and keeps happening, again and again. It just makes me want to scream!

What makes this situation doubly-bad, is that you have very famous people, individuals who are role models to many, behaving in this way, setting a bad example to the majority. Stupid people saying stupid things, in a stupid way, enabled and egged-on by a stupid media catering to a stupid audience.

Stupidity all round.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of the he-says-she-says bullshit we normally get, we had sensible discussion and informed debate? I guess it must just be TooHard™.

For the record, I disagree with D&G about gay couples; a heterosexual couples are just as likely to screw-up a child as gay couple, as is a single parent. I do have concerns at what could be called the “commoditisation” of children, but that’s something that applies to hetro and gay families as equally as it does natural and IVF conception.

The First Casualty of Electioneering…

There’s a general election coming. Joy.

The first casualty of war electioneering is innocence the truth.

In the news today was Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP. Allegedly, he “wants to scrap race discrimination laws”. Nigel says “I didn’t say that, I said…”

You know, I don’t like UKIP. Like many I think that, on the whole, they’re “closet racists”, but what I dislike even more is being lied to. Sadly, when I heard this headline, even before I heard Nigel’s side of the story, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t believe it, because ever since UKIP rose to prominence two years ago, there has been a constant stream of negative press directed at UKIP, much of which, if you’re willing to keep an open mind and look for the truth is twisted representations or wilful misinterpretations of reality.

I don’t like the fact that, in these reports, they don’t play the actual footage, so I can make up my own mind. No, what they do, is feed me a line. Not the same line mind, because it changes slightly with every report. No, they feed me a particular line that really paints UKIP in a bad light, but they deny me access to the truth.

Sometimes, I just want to put my head through a wall.

Let me say it again, in case you missed it the first time: my first reaction was disbelief. That’s right, I no longer believe what I’m told “by the media.”

gasp

Shock! Horror! I don’t just accept what I’m told without question! Who’d have thought it, huh? We live in a country where as many as 25% of people don’t believe that man has landed on the moon, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary!

It’s a common refrain, that “the media are to blame” for the state of politics today. I don’t believe that – I think that politics is in the state it is because of the politicians we have – but I do believe that the media has contributed to the conditions in which politicians operate.

Like many, I’m sick to death of constantly been talked at like I’m an idiot and being shovelled political and personal agendas as “news”. In the late 90’s, people complained that “piracy was killing album sales.” and yet, CD sales picked up after the turn of the millennium. Why? Because the music was JustBetter™. People are turning away from traditional media “because of changing technology”. Yeah. Tell it to my CD collection.

Baring One’s Soul, Part II

I have a friend (yes, I know!) called Gemma. Gemma, as well as being one of the best singers I’ve ever had to privilege to hear, is a mum and has undertaken to do The Great North Run.

You can follow her journey and get to know her through her fantastically frank and open blog. Better still, you can support her and the three great charities she’s running for.

What’s this got to do with the price of fish? When I started this blog, I asked the question “how much should I share?” do I have the courage to share myself with the world in the way that my friend has? An interesting question. A very interesting question indeed…

Re-inventing the Wheel

One of the most common criticisms of software developers is that we are perpetually re-inventing the wheel.

It (re?) occurred to me today that this probably owes a lot to the way programming it taught.

I would argue that any¬†good Computer Science degree will aim to have it’s readers come away with an understanding of the principles at work. Now, in order to do this effectively (or at least demonstrate their understanding), students will have to implement much of the basic software that has been around for decades (sorting algorithms are a good example of this).

Of course, this is great for ensuring that you get really good Computer Scientists who can deliver real innovation and solve hard problems, but the disadvantage of this, is that they don’t practice doing what one would normally do InTheRealWorld™, which is find an existing implementation that is ‘good enough’ and work from there.

Learning to use software libraries is a skill in and of itself, as it often requires an understanding that may not be available immediately. This is partly an issue of design or (more usually) documentation, but there is also an element of experience; it requires experience to understand how other programmers think and how they build and design libraries.

I think that teaching needs to acknowledge this; yes, get students to write the fundamental algorithms, but make sure that you follow-up with a course that makes them use existing libraries, as this is how they will expected to work in the future.