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…

One way to make sense of the change in the way we …

One way to make sense of the change in the way we live online is to consider how the language we use to talk about our digital selves has evolved. Take terms like cybercitizen and netizen, which each play on the metaphor that the Internet is a structured city or community. According to Google Ngrams, these words found their greatest use in the heydey of Geocities and have been in decline ever since. This happened as we began clicking friend buttons instead of writing in the guestbooks of neighborly strangers. It happened as we traded in our HTML editors for the sleek blue layouts and pre-set photo sizes of Facebook. In other words, we stopped being frontiersmen and started being consumers, conceding the role of maker in our Wild West to corporations. And build they did.

In short, we gave up our netizenship.

The death and life of great Internet cities

3D Printed Guns (Documentary)

This one actually sent me into a lot of thinking (which is still not complete).  On one hand, I am very anti-gun.  On the other, I am very pro-Open Source.  I do agree with the point Cody raises about there being no more politics or politicians, just a pseudo-selection between the candidates who protect the same class of people.  Also, Nick’s saying that 3D printing technology is getting better and cheaper fast, and that law has always been way behind technology – this all makes 3D gun printing a complicated issue.


Sex worker excuses

Cyprus Mail reports:

A SEX WORKER in Nicosia’s old town yesterday spoke out after a heated altercation with residents and police outside her place of work on Tuesday night. “I’ve been in the business on this street for six years, and now all of a sudden the neighbours remember to get annoyed” the 49-year-old told the Cyprus Mail. 

I’ve heard this excuse so many times and even used it myself a few times. But if you think about it for a second, you’d realize that it’s plain silly. If something wrong is going on and it annoys you and you don’t do anything about it for a long period of time, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do anything about it forever. There is a breaking point for everything.

“I do not bother anyone and if they do not like my line of work, then they should help me get out of it, not persecute me.”

Obviously, you do bother someone. And even though they probably should help you to get out of this line of work, they don’t have to. After all each one of them makes an effort on his own not to get into it. And each one of them succeeds, so why shouldn’t you?

Not that I have anything against this line work.

Residents complained that clients of the sex worker would often wander on the street in their underwear or completely naked, while some drunken clients would even urinate outside their doors.
“Several cars pass by every night, blowing their horns and shouting at the sex worker” said another neighbour.

There we go against “I do not bother anyone”. Maybe not you, but your clients do.

Mavrou said that the authorities had encountered serious difficulties in proving the pimping charges due to the vagueness of the current legislation on prostitution.
According to police, the legislation is unclear as to whether brothels can operate in residential areas or anywhere else, while the circumstances by which a person engages in paid sex are also vague.

That, for some reason, is my favorite bit of the article, together with this:

Nicosia’s “red light district” has been predominantly confined to three streets in the old town since the 1950s on Soutsou, Pentadaktylou and Theseos streets. The woman in question was working out of a house on Theseos Street.

It’s so nice of them to specify exactly where the “red light district” is for those of us who don’t know Nicosia highlights that well.

What is a week?

Today morning I had a brief conversation with a coworker. As many office works do on Wednesday, and not only on Wednesday, we were dreaming of the upcoming weekend. Partially, as a joke, we said that it would be nice to have an extra day in a week that nobody else would know about. We could then rest and relax in the middle of the week without anyone noticing our absence.

That reminded me of the system that I’ve built a few years ago. It had to do with schedule generation for a bunch of people who were working shifts. The rules of who can take which shifts were constantly changing. And so, in order to build the most flexible system that I could think of, I implemented one which had a variable number of days per week. You could easily build a week of just three days or eight or ten. On top of that, days could be easily rearranged in order. That was a fun setup, but eventually it proved very useful. I left the company many years ago, but I hear they still use the system with just a few extra tweaks.

Once I remembered that system, it got me thinking more about the definition of the week. Which brought me to the history of how did we come to have a 7 day week. The best resource for things like that is, of course, Wikipedia. Surprisingly, the page is not very long. But even as it is, it still mentions weeks used in different societies at different times. Have a look at it to learn about 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 8-, 9-, and even 10-day weeks. It’s quite fun.

Given that time is very abstract, I find it interesting how tightly we hold on to a 7-day week standard.