Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Why do conservatives oppose same-sex marriage?

Maybe I just don't completely understand modern conservatives. I'd like to. My understanding of conservative values is:

  1. The Constitution is highly valuable, and we should interpret it in line with the intentions of the Founding Fathers
  2. Government should be only large enough to do that which private concerns cannot or should not
  3. The Federal government should not impinge the rights of the States
  4. Personal liberty should be protected, especially when it's a liberty enumerated in the Constitution
So let's look at same-sex marriage bans, and particularly the extremely-poorly-named "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA):

  1. The Fifth Amendment requirement for due process, and the Fourteenth Amendment's "equal protection" clause (no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws), seem to require that State's not create classes of people for whom the laws or their implementation are different. Isn't telling someone they can't marry the person they love as the result of their sexual orientation a problem here?
  2. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, which means that the government shouldn't be passing laws that serve only to enforce anyone's religious belief. Since the majority of the objections to same-sex marriage are religious – and since there are religions that permit same-sex marriage – isn't the government interfering in free exercise of religion if it tells a church that it will only recognize some of that church's marriages?
  3. Some States have decided to ban same-sex marriages, and others to formally recognize them. DOMA says that even if a State decides to recognize a same-sex marriage, the Federal government won't.  Isn't this the Federal government interfering in States' rights? Why does the Fed get to tell the States it won't recognize their marriages?
  4. The idea of personal liberty is that individuals should be free to do as they please as long as it doesn't harm anyone else (by impinging on others' rights). If the gay couple next door wants to be married, how does that harm anyone else? What justification does a conservative have for butting into their personal lives and deciding what they're allowed to do?
To me, any one of those should be sufficient reason for conservatives to oppose any effort to restrict same-sex marriage.

Is the moral outrage that the religious conservatives feel so overpowering that they're willing to compromise their other principles to ensure that no one can offend their delicate sensibilities on this topic?  I really don't get it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How not to do a live technology demo

  • Use a tiny font that you chose for its ability to fit lots of data on your laptop screen
  • Make sure your theme is a low-contrast theme with a lot of dark colors
  • Prepare your demo on a high-resolution screen, and don't use the native resolution of the projector
  • Switch quickly between various windows and input/output sources. The audience will understand what's going on, they don't need any visual cues about what you're changing from and to
  • Make sure you use a cool-looking window theme. It won't distract from your demo, especially if your audience doesn't think it's as cool as you think it is
  • When your demo doesn't go exactly to plan, make a predictable joke about how hard technology demos are
  • Under no circumstances have a screen capture or other form of video to use in case there are difficulties with your live demo. Your audience will enjoy watching your troubleshooting skills

Monday, March 25, 2013

Well, pretty much all blogging software sucks

All I really wanted was a simple system. Something where I can easily -- that is, with little friction -- share things I find interesting as well as longer-form writing.  Something that allows me to focus on writing (for example, supports Markdown syntax). Something that doesn't require hours of time every month to patch and keep updated because it's been written to support all kinds of inherently risky technologies and is popular enough to be targeted by, well, everyone (Wordpress, I'm looking at you).

Of course, I wanted the basic things that make a blog a blog -- a syndication feed in Atom or RSS, a chronological archive, and a front page that shows the several most recent posts. Categories and tags aren't necessary for what I do, but if they're there, I will use them.

Oh, and if I need to switch off of the platform, then I want an easy export or access to the raw data of my posts, primarily in the format in which I wrote them (plain HTML or Markdown).

Every. Single. Platform. Seems to have either pushed to the "super-lightweight-static-site-generator" end of the spectrum, or "heres-a-rich-CMS-you-can-use-it-to-blog-I-guess" end. Blogger was, sadly, the closest thing. So here I am. Enjoy, I guess?