Bookmarks – The fluidity of male sexuality and learnable programming

Oh, and ad blockers.

But ad blockers are ruining the web, right? Aren’t I actively harming my favorite web sites? To some extent, that’s probably true. Will it lead to a reduction of good content? Maybe, though anecdotally, the number and obtrusiveness of ads on a site doesn’t seem to be positively correlated with the quality of the content. I also admit that I’m selfish. I’d still run an ad blocker if all web ads were unobtrusive, had no performance impact, and ad networks would not track me. Why? First, because I can.2 Second, because I think advertising is bad for me and I owe it to myself to fight it.

Let’s not forget that advertisers are not our friends. They try to manipulate it us into buying stuff we don’t need. Advertising just isn’t a good thing for society.3 I would even argue it’s our moral responsibility to block out as much advertising as we can from our lives. In some sense, blocking ads is like using encryption to make it harder for governments to spy on us – something too few us do.

Is it Immoral to not Block Ads? by Ole Begemann (935 words).

Similarly, content strategy has always been a part of web projects. Notice the number of people now calling themselves content strategists who describe having had an epiphany after  realizing what they were  doing had a name. What content strategy as a discipline did was give visibility to activities and processes which could help make web teams less dysfunctional in relation to the content their web sites and applications were intended to deliver.

You Got Your Content in My Web Design by John Eckman (496 words).

People sometimes say to me, ‘God you’re prolific.’ Or, ‘How do you get so much done — you must work nights and weekends too.’

I don’t think either statement is true. I write for a living. I do this probably forty eight weeks of the year, the rest being for leisure. That ought to generate more than one book in my opinion. The secret, if it is one, is simple… routine.

Routines are great because they remove from you the question, ‘Should I write now or… (insert relevant work avoidance practice here)’. If you have a routine you do it because it takes a conscious decision to break the habit. A good routine becomes something you follow without noticing. Bucking it is what takes the effort.

If there’s a secret to productive writing it’s a routine by David Hewson (644 words).

It’s pretty much the secret to productive anything.

I’ve included three sizable quotes from the next piece. Mainly because it’s really long and I wanted to give you a clear idea for why it’s worth your time. But it’s also because it’s an imperfect but important exploration of both how male sexuality is incredibly fluid (both today and historically) and how that fluidity is also completely and utterly denied by society at large.

This divide stems from a common understanding of human sexuality: The female variety of it is more malleable, more inherently open to experimentation and variety, than the male variety. In Not Gay: Sex Between Straight White Men, out last month from NYU Press, Jane Ward, an associate professor of women’s studies at the University of California, Riverside, makes the case that this is a flawed understanding. In doing so, she shows that homosexual contact has been a regular feature of heterosexual life ever since the concepts of homo- and heterosexuality were first created — not just in prisons and frat houses and the military, but in biker gangs and even conservative suburban neighborhoods. Given how prevalent this behavior is in so many different sorts of settings, Ward suggest it’s time to stop explaining it away — and explains how society’s conception of male heterosexuality is an unrealistic, expedient one.

Why Straight Men Have Sex With Each Other by Jesse Singal (3683 words).

Right, exactly, but what's interesting about all of those accounts is that because we’re so committed to this narrative that men's sexuality is bound by biology and can only be shifted somehow by the most extreme circumstances, the authors of those various accounts always seem to come to the conclusion that it was the very unique and particular circumstances of that context that account for why heterosexual men would act homosexually.

So if it was in prisons it was like, Well, this would only happen in prison because there are no women available, and that's how we would explain this. And people who looked at the military would say, This would only happen in the military, but no one who was looking at prisons or the military was also looking at what was happening in bathrooms or bars or living rooms or in biker gangs or all of the other contexts where, frankly, those constraints aren’t in place. And yet despite lacking any pressing reason to do so, men are still manufacturing reasons to touch each other’s anuses. So that was one of the guiding questions through the book: What happens when we pull all of this evidence together? What might we glean about straight men's sexuality?

Why Straight Men Have Sex With Each Other by Jesse Singal (3683 words).

When you talk about men giving justifications for their homosexual encounters that are perhaps far-fetched because they lack the vocabulary to talk about what’s really going on, do you think the solution is just to acknowledge that sexuality is complicated and fluid and weird for men, too, and some men just like going down on another guy in the bathroom and that doesn’t really say as much as we think about their identity? How do we discover that vocabulary to talk about it?
Yeah, well what I would like to see first is acknowledgement, more mainstream acknowledgement that everybody has homosexual sex. And when I say that I don’t mean that truly everybody does — there are some people who have no sex and of course there are some people who never have homosexual sex, but if we’re going to talk about who has homosexual sex, we often just think, well, only gay, lesbian, and bisexual-identified people have homosexual sex, but it turns out straight women have a lot of homosexual contact with other women, and so do straight men, and so that means that kind of everybody does, and so I think it would be helpful to just start with greater awareness that homosexual desire is just part of the human condition.

Now if we take that as given, then the question is, Well, why do some people want it more than others, or why do some people organize their life around it, and other people don’t want anyone to even know that they do it? To me that’s a more interesting question than Are you born gay or straight? and so I think that the solution, honestly, is to stop being so obsessed with sociobiological arguments about sexual orientation, which I think are a trap, frankly, and instead ask the question, Given that so many humans have homosexual encounters, what is it that makes some people understand their homosexual encounters as culturally significant, and other people understand it as meaningless or circumstantial? I don’t think we have the answer to that question yet. 

Why Straight Men Have Sex With Each Other by Jesse Singal (3704 words).

By contrast live coding gives instant feedback so one sees whether one is getting closer to the solution. This leads to programmers not needing to think as much, they can just take a random guess and see how the output changes. If it gets better then they keep that change and make another. If it gets worse then they revert the change and make another. Watching programmers code in this manner is like watching a new species evolve; it works, but it is painfully slow and by the end the ‘programmer’ has no idea how the program works.

Neil’s News by Neil Fraser (421 words).

live-coding Processing environment addresses neither of these goals. JavaScript and Processing are poorly-designed languages that support weak ways of thinking, and ignore decades of learning about learning. And live coding, as a standalone feature, is worthless.

Alan Perlis wrote, "To understand a program, you must become both the machine and the program." This view is a mistake, and it is this widespread and virulent mistake that keeps programming a difficult and obscure art. A person is not a machine, and should not be forced to think like one.

How do we get people to understand programming?

We change programming. We turn it into something that's understandable by people.

Learnable Programming by Bret Victor (531 words).