Gay marriage: the database engineering perspective

Gay marriage: the database engineering perspective is a rather old article on how gay marriage (and other types of marriages) can affect technology, but somehow I missed it for all these years.

It’s interesting from a variety of perspectives – technical, social, and cultural.  It’s also somewhat tongue in cheek, yet insightful and thought-provoking.  Irrelevant of your views on the subject, I recommend this read.  Where else will you find 14 database schema designs trying to solve the same problem.

The legal ramifications of what I’m about to describe are unguessable. I have no idea what rights a civil union like the ones which would be possible below would have, nor do I have any idea what kind of transhuman universe would require so complex a system. This is the marriage database schema to take us up to the thirty-first century, people.

If databases are that difficult to adjust, I can’t even imagine the effort needed for humans…

Trust in Automation

Trust in Automation is by far the best thing I’ve read on the subjects of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and their affects on human society.  There are plenty of links and quotes that make you think and want you to learn more … until you don’t.  It’s not depressing, but it is quite concerning.  Here are a couple of quotes from the article (some of them are quotes of other people), which I liked:

As the cost of labor goes up and the cost of machinery goes down, at some point, it’ll be cheaper to use machines than people. With the increase in productivity, the GDP goes up, but so does unemployment. What do you do? … The best way is to reduce the time a certain portion of the population spends living, and then find ways to keep them busy.

—Jingfang Hao, Folding Beijing (2014)

Also this one:

If you think discrimination is bad today, just wait until the machines take over. They will discriminate based on the the shade of your iris, the shape of your brow, the size of a tatoo, or any arbitrary collection of low-level traits whose presence triggers a subtle bias.

The True Reason Behind The 40-Hour Work Week & Why We Are Economic Slaves

The True Reason Behind The 40-Hour Work Week & Why We Are Economic Slaves” doesn’t really say anything new, but it explains things nice and simple.

We automatically accept a 40-hour workweek with meager hourly pay as normal, even though many work overtime and still struggle to survive. There are also those who make enough to live comfortably but are unable to request less hours—you either work 40 hours a week, or you don’t get to work at all. We submit when told what to wear, when we have to arrive and depart, when we’re allowed to eat, and even when we’re allowed to use the restroom. How is it we have come to allow this?

The 40-hour-work week came about during the Industrial Revolution in Britain when at one point workers were putting in 10 to 16 hour days and began to protest. Working situations for Americans began to worsen as well, and by 1836, labor movement publications were also calling for a 40-hour workweek. Citizens in both situations were so overworked, an eight-hour day was easily accepted. This system is unnecessary now, if it ever was, but we still accept it due to the effects of our capitalist society.

It goes over the relationship of inflation, debt and consumerism with a few historical references.  Good reading for anybody wondering why the paycheck-to-paycheck life cycle is difficult to change, no matter what’s the size of the paycheck.

Every pub in the United Kingdom

This Reddit thread shares the map of all the pubs in the UK.  The Poke picked it up and wrapped it into some more links and quotes.  Apparently, not even all the pubs are covered:

“Nope. There’s at least 12 pubs missing from the north coast of Scotland. Thurso alone has more than 6, 2 in Bettyhill, Tongue and Melvich plus a few others all missing”, writes shaidy64

The source of the map is here referencing 24,727 UK pubs.  And I’ve only been to like, what, 3?  This situation urgently needs correction.

Power in a distributed organization vs traditional

Chris Hardie, who works for Automattic, shares his observations on where the power in a distributed organization comes from, versus the traditional one.

In an office setting, I see power and influence gather around…

  • The person with the newest, coolest and/or most expensive clothing
  • The person with the larger corner office
  • The person with the most assistants
  • The person with the most impressive sounding title
  • The person with the closest parking space
  • The oldest, richest, whitest males
  • The person who’s allowed to create or interrupt meetings
  • The person with the most impressive social and public-speaking skills
  • The person who uses their power to get what they want

In a distributed organization, I see power and influence gather around…

  • The person who produces output and solutions that exceed expectations
  • The person who can connect deeply with colleagues over a distance
  • The person who can effectively and concisely articulate their own views and ideas
  • The person who helps their coworkers be the best versions of themselves
  • The person generous with their understanding of how to navigate the organization’s processes and culture
  • The person who can give voice to unrecognized or unspoken truths
  • The person who learns fastest from their mistakes
  • The person who uses their power to empower others

It’s of course not fair to generalize this way. There are healthy traditional organizations where appearances are not necessarily the basis for power. There are probably unhealthy distributed organizations where power centers around the appearance of lots of activity that produces few good outcomes. But my experience so far is that a distributed organizational structure inherently facilitates an experience of power, empowerment and leadership that is better for the people in it, and for the work they are doing together.

I don’t have much experience working for a distributed organization, but judging by many Open Source projects, which are, in essence, distributed organizations, I’m inclined to agree with the above observations.  I wouldn’t be able to put in words so well though.

Imagine the world without Muslims

This is one of those things that I love about the Internet.  When you are wrong, the Internet doesn’t just gently mention it.  It absolutely destroys you, shoving the reality so hard down your throat, you forget how to breath for a while.  And then, next time, if you haven’t killed yourself yet, you think long and hard before saying anything out loud.  If you have a half a brain or more, of course.

Continue reading “Imagine the world without Muslims”

Programming and Greek

One thought that cracks me up every now and then is about Greek programmers.  In Greek language, instead of a question mark a semicolon is used.

Greek

In many programming languages, a semicolon is used to represent the end of statement.  So, this:

$a = $b + $c;
print $a;

to Greek programmers must be looking like this:

$a = $b + $c?
print $a?

I don’t know about you, but to me this would be a constant confidence issue.  It’s almost like I’m not sure what I’m going and asking the computer to confirm.

I’m sure though they have their ways of working around this …

By the way, while reading through the Wikipedia article linked above, I thought that the possible origins of the question mark were quite interesting:

questio

 

That would also explain why not all the languages are using the question mark character.

Easter in Cyprus

For those of you not fortunate enough to live in Cyprus, here is a glimpse at how Easter (and other major holidays like … Sundays) are celebrated in Cyprus villages.

easter

The photo comes from this article (in Greek) which (to the best of my knowledge) tries to warn people about buying meat from non-certified butchers.  Well, guess what, all certified butchers were probably emptied out anyway.