Sunday, February 12, 2006

Getting ready to spoil my ballot

I look forward to 1 March, when I will enter the voting booth and express my disgust at the poor quality of candidates fielded by both the ANC and the DA in my ward.

The vacuous idiot who I mentioned in my previous posts has been nominated by the ANC (or by people who joined the ANC to nominate him), and the drones will vote for him regardless of his rather dubious missing credentials. The DA candidate is no better.

I'm sick of power cuts that take 6 hours to fix, and streetlights that are out for weeks. I am sick of a municipality that wants to waste huge amounts of money on meaningless symbolic gestures, rather than spending it on service delivery. I am sick of driving to work on a deathtrap of a road, because the provincial government wants to allocate transport spending to a white elephant.

To a lesser extent, my action will be also an attempt at protest against a governing party that is becoming arrogant and corrupt, and a political opposition that has failed to move out of its "Fight Back" reactionary mindset and provide a viable alternative to the ANC. It will ultimately be a futile gesture, but it will make me feel better.

A Gulf wedding

Here's an interesting description of the celebrations at a Gulf Arab wedding by a female guest.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The cartoon scandal - trolling1 writ large

The Muhammad cartoon scandal has been big news.

Many bloggers seem to have embraced the cartoons with relish including our own Commentary. Other bloggers have pointed out that freedom of speech means the freedom to attack Islam, and claim that the fallout from the scandal provides justification for Muslims to be removed from Europe if possible.

In my opinion, Muslims have fallen straight into the trap set by the Danish newspaper, by reacting in a predictable way. Instead of tactfully dealing with the issue, they allowed it to be blown out of proportion, and gave the Danish newspaper and closet racists an opportunity to play the role of martyrs to free speech.

You will note that I said that Muslims have reacted in a "predictable way". The faux outrage of those who claim to be surprised when Muslims are offended by their prophet being portrayed as a terrorist, is either disingenuous or hopelessly naive.

The cartoons were obviously printed as a deliberate provocation.

1 Troll: definition (Trolling is also free speech)

Update: This sums up my feelings about the whole business: If newspapers have the right to offend then surely their targets have the right to be offended. [via]
Update 2 (2006/02/06): It appears that the same Danish newspaper refused to publish drawings lampooning Jesus Christ in 2003, on the grounds that they were "offensive and not funny" [via].

Friday, February 03, 2006

Database hot air

One of the weird things I have discovered as a software developer, is that almost every developer I talk to has a different opinion about what constitutes good database design and manipulation (using SQL).

From those who eschew referential integrity in the name of performance to those who insist on always using autonumbers/identity columns for primary keys. From those who ruthlessly denormalize, to those who refuse to use inner joins because "nested selects are faster", it's easy to get dozens of opinions.

It's pretty hard to justify many of these arguments, and from a maintenance/data integrity perspective, some of these are awful.

Why are databases surrounded by so much hot air?