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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Elpy 1.0 Released

I’m happy to announce that I just released version 1.0 of Elpy, the Emacs Python Development Environment. You can find a list of news since the last release below.

Requiring Calorie Labels in Restaurants

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

Quality and Quantity in Exclusionary Language

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.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gendered Language in German

Germany recently revised the road traffic regulations, mostly to improve the situation for bicyclists. One of the unrelated features of this revision was the attempt to “de-genderize” the language used in the law. That’s a novel thing and has been received with very mixed reactions.

German as a language is highly gendered, much more so than English. Every noun has a gender of either male, female, or neutral, with the neutral forms implying a lack of gender, not unknown gender. Almost all prepositions, pronouns, etc. are inflected in a gender-specific way according to the subject they refer to. As an example, a friend once remarked that the phrase “the wizard” in English leaves it open if the wizard is male or female. This is nearly impossible in German, as you can not talk about anything without giving it a gender.