Programming is an art. And as with any art, the artist feels compelled to show off how intelligently they can handle their tools, how well they understand their field, and how skillful they can express their ideas. At the same time, programming is engineering. Programs are written for a purpose, need to run, need to be maintained, and need to be extended. Those two faces can, and do, conflict regularly.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
Sunday, May 19, 2013
The internet is full of questionable jokes. Gay is a generic negative adjective, in gaming circles rape is used as a term for defeating your opponent, and many people enjoy some sexist and otherwise disparaging humor.
When people, especially moderators, step up and try to ask to skip these phrases, they are generally met with dismissive reactions. Can’t they take a joke? No one’s being hurt, it’s their fault if someone is offended – after all, it’s just words, right?
Sadly, that’s grossly underestimating the power of language and interaction.
Friday, May 10, 2013
In the recent debate on tax changes in Germany following the proposal of the Green Party to increase tax rates to 49% from currently 42% for incomes of 80,000 EUR and above, the German Industry and Trade Chamber (DIHK) submitted an opinion piece which claims that increases in top tax rates correlates with an increase in jobless numbers. This opinion piece is an excellent example of two major abuses of statistics: Cherrypicking and confusing correlation with causation.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
A positive caloric energy balance is the main driving factor of obesity, and therefore a direct cause of one of the leading preventable causes of death (Barness et.al. 2007). A recurring question for policy makers then is, how can we help people make better decisions as to their own diets. Calorie labels are widely available on food items in grocery stores, but most restaurants do not provide calorie information for their foods. The question now is, would implementing a law to require such calorie labels in restaurants improve the situation, and if so, in what way?
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Recently, I had yet another discussion following the exactly same lines. Someone points out a childish, sex-related joke. Someone calls it sexist. Half a dozen people get mightily upset because that’s just a joke, and not sexist.
Now it would be easy to dismiss this as the usual privileged male talk that it partly indeed is. But that’s not going to change anything, and more importantly, it misses something crucial. Namely, that those people do have a point.