2004-08-03 21:54 in /politics
There was discussion about Walmart on Marketplace this evening. Apparently someone outside the alternative press finally realized that when companies pay below a living wage and expect their employees to make up the difference by applying for food stamps and the like, in essence the taxpayers are subsidizing the operation of that company. This isn’t exactly rocket science, but I guess it’s news to some.
However, there was a counterpoint from someone arguing that Walmart employs mostly retirees (hmm... employeed retirees, how’s that work?), college students, and the variously disabled, so they’re actually reducing the public burden because otherwise those people would be completely dependent on public assistence. Now, maybe I haven’t seen a representative sample, but that doesn’t match any Walmart I’ve been to, where the employees pretty uniformly appear to be typical working-age, working-class, fully-abled individuals.
In other recent news, I saw a couple newpaper headlines insisting that there was no post-convention bounce for Kerry. However, the Electoral Vote Predictor strongly disagrees. Liberal media indeed...
I think it would be interesting to see a similar graph, but distorted so that size reflected population or electoral votes. Already this graphic is nice in that it reflects a shift from the vast sea of red that we’ve gotten familiar with in recent years, but shrinking some of those wide-open western spaces down to size would really paint a different picture.
2004-08-03 10:57 in /tech/oscon
Well, looking back, it’s been a pretty good week. Really busy, but interesting and worthwhile. A couple sessions disappointed me, and there were a few things the conference organizers could have done better, but on the whole it was quite valuable.
My big synchonicity of the week revolved around Damian Conway, Paul Graham, and Brian Ingerson (IO::All). I had actually been rereading some of Paul Graham’s essays before the conference, including Programming Bottom-Up, a concept that he touched on briefly in his Tuesday night talk. The basic idea is to extend the language to match your problem domain, thus making it easier and more natural to express your programs. Ingy has created a few examples of this in IO::All and Spiffy. Damian talked about this and more in his Sufficiently Advanced Technologies talk.
At a minimum, this got me to think about some of my basic utility classes and how I could modify them to be more natural to use. But, I’m also thinking about new development and how to keep things cleaner. I need to give some thought, though, to understanding how to ensure that this technology is used for good. If you have a small group of highly talented developers, it is clear that using this power is the way to go. What is less clear is how to scale it to larger development groups. How do you educate people if you change the language itself? And, how do you ensure that this sort of deep magic is used carefully and with restraint?
My other big conclusion was that we can definitely contribute more to this conference. There are interesting problems we are addressing which I didn’t see anyone talking about. To a certain extent, we will be limited by confidentiality, but there should still be general stuff we can talk about that isn’t specific to our application or so critical to maintaining competitive advantage. So, I will probably submit a talk next year, working title “How to serve 1,000,000,000 requests a day with mod-perl”. Keep your eyes open for it.