Thursday, July 31, 2008

Atheist = Witch

Gentle reader,

I am nominally an atheist - a person who does not believe in God or Gods. It has been said many times before that defining oneself as an atheist is a strange thing to do. To do that is to name yourself for something that you are not. In the same way, I could call myself an "avegetarian" (since I do eat meat).

Beside the nonsense factor behind the word "Atheist", I think we have just about reached a point here in the United States where using the "A" word to describe one's lack of religiosity is tantamount to saying "I'm a witch!". Not literally, of course. But it has much the same effect on many people.

Often, the end result of describing myself as an atheist is an uncomfortable silence. It shuts down debate and questioning and puts up barriers.

Although I hold the opinion of a strong-atheist (i.e. I am convinced that God does not exist) I have chosen to no longer refer to myself using the "A bomb". Instead, I am trying to use terms such as "non-religious" or "secular". I feel that taking a slightly less confrontational approach is more likely to foster rational debate and lead to a better understanding of what I (do not) believe in.

Time for today's quote:

Man is distinguished, not only by his reason,
but by this singular passion from other animals,
which is a lust of the mind,
that by a perseverance of delight in the continued
and indefatigable generation of knowledge,
exceeds the short vehemence of any carnal pleasure.
-from Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan
Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your Friend,

Buford Twain

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Want me to pair-program? Go F# yourself.

Gentle reader,

As a "modern" software developer I live in fear of being asked to pair-program. Pair programming as the name suggests is software development done by two people. One person types, the other hovers close by and "makes helpful suggestions".

The benefits of this technique are supposedly better focus, time management and a reduction in the number of silly errors that are often made while programming solo. While I do not deny that it might work for some, pair programming will absolutely not work for me.

See, the trouble is, I am an incurable introvert (see this article on caring for your introvert for more info). I am OK with talking to someone for a while, but eventually (after a few minutes, even, depending on the person) I just need to be left alone. I find most people mentally draining. As Sartes famously said, "hell is other people". I desperately need some time to recharge. This need isn't something I have any control over. The bottom line is that if I had to work in close quarters with someone else *all day long* I fear I would go mad.

I should point out that I have been employed in the IT world for many years. It's a good place to be for us introverts. I write software that is currently used by many people and love it (mostly). But I simply couldn't pair-program for any length of time. I am sure there are others out there like me. Imposing an agile type of methodology that involves pair-programming on introverted people like myself is cruel and unusual punishment. And here's the rub: your project will suffer if you try to force it upon us (passive aggressive, anyone?)

Speaking for myself, if you want to get something done, let me know what you need. Then kindly leave me alone for as long as possible. If I need more information, I'll stop by your cube. Well, maybe I'll just shoot you an email instead ;-)

Time for today's quote:

Revolutions come from standing on the shoulders of giants and facing in a better direction.
-Alan Kay

Until the next time, gentle reader, I remain,

Your friend,

Buford Twain