As You Were

Devin Coughlin's blog.
Styles: Serious Spare

December 19, 2007

Why is it

that when a a 16 year-old girl has sex, she's a "skank" but when a 16 year-old boy has sex, he's a hero?

This is the virgin/whore dichotomy in action, folks. And don't kid yourself, this isn't funny -- it's misogyny through and through.
Posted by coughlin at 10:37 AM

December 18, 2007

The Level of Stupidity

required to even consider that this might be true is mind-boggling.

Update: Collin suggests I could me more clear here. My point is this: it is very easy to describe what to do for a command-line interface (e.g., you could talk a complete newbie through deleting a file with rm much more easily than talking them through navigating to that file in Windows and dragging it to the recycling bin) but just knowing the magical incantation doesn't mean you understand it. It is also very hard for even an experienced scissors-user to describe to someone exactly how to use a pair of scissors, but that doesn't mean they don't understand the scissors' interface. I'd go even further and say that the best user interfaces are the ones that don't afford description -- you don't talk about them, you just use them.

Posted by coughlin at 11:47 AM

December 16, 2007

The Candidates

Atrios has a description of the Democratic candidates for President that pretty much matches my own views.

Obama: The system sucks, but I'm so awesome that it'll melt away before me.
Edwards: The system sucks, and we're gonna have to fight like hell to destroy it.
Clinton: The system sucks, and I know how to work within it more than anyone.

The only candidate I've given money to is Dodd, but should the caucuses in Colorado on Feb. 25th come to matter, I'll be facing a choice between Edwards and Clinton. I've all but decided for Clinton because, even though I agree with Edwards on almost everything, I want a candidate with the resources and political experience to win in the general election.

Posted by coughlin at 5:46 PM

December 1, 2007

Cable a la carte

I'm having a hard time deciding whether I support the FCC's push to require cable companies to offer a la carte pricing for channels -- that is, consumers would be able to pick and pay for exactly the channels they want rather than select from a limited set of pre-selected packages.

A la carte pricing seems like a no-brainer for consumers -- the benefits would be reduced prices and a wider selection. Your mythical geek wouldn't have to pay for ESPN and the Speed Channel while the sports nut could subscribe to ESPN1-56 and The Middle School Softball Channel. Ditching the one-size-fits-all model would be especially great for people with niche interests -- anime, sci-fi, curling, etc.

But I find it useful in evaluating whether to support regulatory reform to look at the players pushing for it. One the side of increased regulation we have the FCC (or, at least, parts of it), consumer groups, and the Parent's Television Council. The PTC, as you may remember, is the group of nutjobs concerned mainly with keeping depictions of witchcraft off of your TV -- for the children, you see. Opposing the new regulation we have . . . the cable companies.

The fact that the PTC is so adamantly in favor of a la carte pricing makes me think there must be a major downside to it. And there is. The problem is that the decision-makers (that is, the people paying for the service) are not always the same as the users (the people actually watching television). This always leads to inefficiencies (see, e.g. corporate IT) and makes me think that people will get much less use out of their televisions on an a la carte plan. The PTC is obviously behind this because it allows families to protect their children from joining sex-based cults inspired by CSI; but this really means that Daddy gets to pick the channels (The Chuck Norris Channel!) leaving Little Gay Johnny without access to Queer Eye and forcing Mommy to watch ChristianHomemakerTV. Daddy's happy, but everyone else is stuck in TV hell, lowering the usefulness of TV and ultimately making cable less valuable.

So the question is whether the decreased cost and improved options made possible by a la carte pricing outweigh the decreased efficiency and the costs to society incurred by conservative parents who won't let their gay kids learn about fashion.

Ten years ago, I think the answer would have been no: television was our window on the world and putting bars and blinds on it would have a very real effect. But today we have the internet, where Little Gay Johnny can talk to other gay kids his age, and Mommy can read Orcinus and Pandagon and dream about maybe someday breaking free. So if the Parent's Television Council succeeds in locking down cable, maybe it doesn't matter. In fifteen years we'll all be getting our TV on the internet anyway. And then the Parent's Internet Council will start all over again.

Posted by coughlin at 12:27 PM