Posts Tagged With: Logic

Let’s Discuss Politics!! But first…

I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I actually had a really interesting and enjoyable conversation about politics last night.  What makes this even more shocking is that the conversation was with someone who has drastically different views than I do.  We actually disagreed, but managed to do so in a rational and respectful manner.

I bet you didn’t even know that was possible…  Typically the second politics comes up in a conversation everyone involved gets defensive and the discussion quickly deteriorates into an argument.  An argument in which both sides refuse to even listen to or consider the perspective of the other, choosing instead to talk louder and louder to try and drown out the other person’s voice.

I should know.  I’ve tried to have many such conversations, and I have very rarely succeeded.  There are a few things that bother me about this, not the least of which is the fact that I really enjoy a good, intelligent political discussion and I find that I can so rarely engage in one.  Most political conversation is completely unproductive and not worth the time.

Which brings me to the most important reason this situation bothers me: the discussion is typically completely unproductive.  See, in my opinion, conversation should have benefits other than just the benefits that come from social contacts in general.  Political conversation… honest, open, political conversation… conversation where both sides are actually willing to consider the possibility that they may be wrong, has the potential to make a real difference in our society and for our country.  Generally in political discussions I find myself up against an opponent who spews biased nonsense with no ability to back up their opinions with facts or even with thoughts of their own.

We are each individually responsible for helping to make this country great by being involved in our political system, and everything we do to be involved… protesting, writing our representatives, even just showing up at the polls and voting intelligently… it all makes a difference.  We all must work together to make a difference and to find a compromise that will work for the country as a whole.  If only we could make that happen.

So, what is it that is getting in the way of productive political discussion among individual citizens?

I’m sure there are a number of factors, but I think I have pinpointed a big one. While resolving it probably won’t entirely solve the problem, it could be a good starting point if we could get enough people to understand it and put it into action.

We all have to stop trusting the media and learn to do our own research.  I don’t care what your favorite news source is, it’s not entirely neutral.  Everyone has a bias, the only difference is the extent of that bias or how extreme the views of that source are.  The bias, as much as we’d like for it not to be, is ALWAYS THERE.  And I am not saying you have to completely shun your favorite news source, they all provide some useful information and perspectives in this seemingly never ending search for the facts.

I’m saying that you should be reading ALL of the sources.  Not all at once, of course.  Not even all of the content on all of the sources.  Who has the time for that? Personally I read CNN, BBC, Fox News, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, and my local news website.  And I watch… Jon Stewart!  But there’s also ABC, MSNBC, and any number of other websites you can check out.

No matter what sources you choose, I truly believe that when coming to conclusions regarding political issues, you should be looking to see what the various sources say, and you should be comparing what those sources say to the actual facts of the issue at hand.

I know… I know… sounds crazy.

But since, as I noted above, so many people just don’t know where to start.  I have put together what I hope is a simple to follow, common sense guide to researching political issues and articles.  Read it.  Comment on it.  Help me improve it or expand it.

Looking forward to discussing politics with you!!

Categories: Government & Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Me… A Programmer??

I read very few tech blogs.  I just don’t like to read tech stuff.  I know that probably seems strange coming from a computer programmer… but it’s true.  I’m possibly the least technical *technical* person you’ll ever meet.

I read a blog today asking readers to share their story of how they wound up working in software development.  And since over the past few days I have been reading blogs (and especially comments on said blogs) that made me question my worth in the programming world and wonder if I learned to code for the right reasons, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain exactly how and why I ended up where I did.

I’ll start by saying that I like coding alright.  I don’t dread going to work, I enjoy working with the people I work with, I get really excited when I solve a particularly difficult or frustrating problem, and I ♥ the feeling of satisfaction that I get when I make users happy by making their work day just a tad bit easier.

I don’t love writing code.

Unlike so many programmers, I didn’t grow up writing code.  I did not find at a young age that I was fascinated by how the computer worked, I never cared to take things apart and put them back together, and I have never EVER written code for fun.  It’s not a hobby for me, it’s a job.

I never wanted to be a programmer.

So how did it happen? Let me explain…

I had my first child when I was 18, and I had my second at 19.  When I found myself, at 21 years old, trying to support two young children while working at a Walmart snack bar, struggling to put food on the table, wondering where the rent money was going to come from and living in fear of when the electric company would show up to shut off our power, I realized I had to do something.  Never one to just resign myself to the idea that “this is just how it is”, I opted to fix the problem instead.  I guess you could say this was my first real attempt at problem solving, a skill that actually comes in really handy in the world of software development!

I picked up a catalog for the local community college and attempted to choose a career path.  I narrowed it down to three.

  1. Psychology – I have always been fascinated with people and how they think, so anything to do with psychology or sociology = perfect.  Plus I have always had a desire to help others, so a career in counseling or social services would have been a fabulous fit.
  2. Accounting – Loved it in high school (but realized after one college level class that it sucked, so it’s a good thing I didn’t pick this one!).
  3. Computers – Because it paid well with minimal education and it appeared to be where the future was at.

Yes, you read that right.  I selected computers NOT because I was so enthralled with my families first home computer that I spent hours writing my own games in BASIC (I only vaguely remember my families first home computer, and I had little to no interest in writing code back then),  but because it paid well with minimal education and seemed like it had solid long-term potential.

You also have to keep in mind that my goal in going to school was to be able to support my family.  That’s it.  It’s what I needed, and I chose the best course of action based on the end goal.  When you have young children to care for, and you want to ensure that the lights always turn on when they flip the switch and water comes out when they turn on the faucet, what you WANT becomes rather insignificant!

You have got to admit, it’s a logical decision.  Programmers are logical people.

Even at this point I had NOT chosen programming.  I was planning on getting into networking, or desktop work, help desk maybe.  Programming was not even a possibility.  But one of the classes I had to take was an introductory class in my first semester that included two weeks of programming at the end of the course.  When week one was done… I HATED IT!  I crabbed and complained and fought against it tooth and nail.  I informed the instructor that I had no intention of being a programmer and there was NO REASON for me to learn this crap!

Honestly, I didn’t understand it.  It made no sense.  Absolutely no sense at all.  I was lost, confused, frustrated, and getting angry.

Then the instructor said to me: “The computer is never going to do anything that you don’t explicitly tell it to do.”

And it clicked.

I can’t even explain why that worked, but it was like she had flipped a switch and suddenly there was understanding.  I just got it.  It miraculously made sense.

Ever since then I just understand code I read code like almost I’m reading English.  I can’t explain why, I just do, it seems simple to me.  I’ve moved easily from one language to another with little to no training and zero time spent coding at home.  I have been successful as a programmer for about 15 years now, and I have never worked a job where users, co-workers, and bosses weren’t extremely happy with the work that I have done.  I have never received a bad review.  I’ve never lost a job because I sucked at it, and I was with my last company for over seven years.

Those of you who are “real programmers”, who question why someone who can’t answer basic technical questions or whip out a few simple lines of code in an interview would even bother applying for a programming job…

I can’t answer the technical questions in interviews.  Not because I can’t write code, but because I don’t have to know what something is called in order to do it.  I can’t typically whip out a few lines of code in an interview, but it’s not because I’m not a good programmer, it’s because I tend to be nervous in interviews and I am always wondering if there is a trick in there somewhere…  especially if the request is super simple.

For a number of years I have questioned my own ability as a programmer, and it was primarily because I find myself surrounded by people who talk the talk, and who trip me up with terminology.  People who have certifications, and in some cases, an unhealthy amount of arrogance to go along with it.  I have encountered those who seem to thoroughly enjoy throwing their knowledge around and trying to make themselves seem superior.  And in the past it has always succeeded in making me feel…  small.

Truth is, I’ve come to find out, I’m a damn good programmer.  It took me 15 years to reach this level of confidence and be able to explain this to people without fear that they would judge me as incompetent.  I know that I’m not incompetent now; In the past I wouldn’t even have been able to write this blog.

And I don’t believe for a second that I’m all that unique; I’m sure there are actually a lot of us who don’t quite fit the mold.  I just wish I knew where they are! 

Hello?  Am I right??  Are you out there somewhere??

Categories: All About Ellen Cabot, Geeky Me O.o | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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