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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Journalist shows he cannot learn to code

The "learn to code" putdown for lefty journalists losing their jobs is so simple to understand, even a reporter for NBC News should get it.

Alas, Ben Collins failed to do his homework and blew it.

He tweeted, "Zoe Beery at Study Hall asked me why Learn To Code is such an effective meme for both the far-right and regular conservative media. It’s a perfect memetic storm: an ingenious cover story of highlighting journalistic softness with Learn To Code, then expected cruelty underneath..."



She also asked me why nobody else is writing about it or writing explainers in mainstream circles, despite its 2016-esque pervasiveness this weekend. My guess is fear? You invite the cover story (learn to code!) plus the underlying point of it (death threats) if you do.
Anyways, game recognize game: this is a super effective meme to scare off journalism, because you’re guaranteed death threats if you detail it. It’s on journalists to step up and explain the guts of it to average users, even if it’s gonna be a long week when you do.

Poppycock.

Telling some Marxist journalist who got laid off to Learn To Code is not a death threat.

The phrase is a reminder that journalists promoted Hillary's lazy response to coal miners losing their jobs because of the daft theory of global warming.

She wanted coal miners -- who are highly trained at working heavy equipment -- to learn to code because working with the brain is better than working with brawn, right?

But coal miners already use their brains at work. The days of pick axe and shovel are long gone -- almost by a century.

They are sharp people. A fellow going into coal mining at 18 instead of college will make at least $30,000 a year to start and $60,000 a year in four years, without the $100,000 college loan debt.

Oh he likely will have a huge debt. It's called a mortgage. If you have ever driven through a place where coal miners live, you will see nice houses, big trucks, ATVs, pools, boats and a bunch of other stuff no journalist can afford.

The mockery is aimed at journalists, not the people who code. They are fine people doing work that frankly I cannot do. I tried my hand at FORTRAN back in the day. No thank you.

Of course, there is no room in civilized society for death threats. I am appalled by them, be the victim a journalist or a 16-year-old kid unfairly maligned by journalists.

Learn To Code has nothing to do with death threats. In fact, mocking a person is the opposite of a threat.

The irony is that Ben Collins in his "explainer" missed the point of Learn To Code entirely.

18 comments:

  1. Well that's not rare; a journalist not understanding what they're talking about and trying to tell their readers what to think.

    It's all about turning back a nasty jibe on the ones who gleefully said it a few years back. Oh maybe not the same people but then we're not into actually payback anymore. it's more about revenge on a group or class and who cares who actually did the original deed.

    I think it's also about the whining that went on over their firings. They just couldn't see that they were trying to sell something not enough people wanted. That's been going on for a long time. So pick yourself up, dump your expenses and hope you can find work that will help you get by until you can do something that pays more.

    Us normals have been faced with this for years now since the height of NAFTA and the destructive regime of Obama.

    Welcome to our world journos.

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  2. This is a good reply. Thanks.

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  3. Rarely in American history has it been as easy to find a job as it is now. Truck driver positions are going begging, for instance. Doesn’t fit your self-actualized image, journos? Then shut the fook up. We. Don’t. Care.

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  4. One journalist responded in a huff, saying something to the effect, well, at least a journalist who learns to code will be a better coder than a coal miner who learns to code.

    There might be some truth to that. We associate programming with math -- many early programming curricula, for example, put computer programming in with math departments.

    It made sense back in the day because it's all 1's and 0's and (at the assembler or machine level) the programmer found himself constantly converting binary or hexadecimal numbers to decimal, and looking up ASCII or EBCDIC codes to see how it translated to character sets (like the alphabet).

    But after spending 35 years as a "coder", my intuition tells me linguistics of some sort is probably the best background for writing code, especially for higher-level languages. In information technology, symbols such as the alphabet, punctuation, and numbers are just symbols -- same as letters and strings of characters in English. I'd go so far as to say, civilization is possible because we think it terms of symbols. Language helps thinking.

    Or... you might be some addled Buzzfeed doofus who imagines he's a cross between Che Guevera and Jack Kerouac, and never had an actual thought of his own in his entire life.

    Either way, some of the ugliest code I've ever seen was written by engineers. They sorta brag about it. "We're not programmers; we are engineers who do code."

    To me, they were engineers hoodoo code.

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    1. Journo's will NOT be better coders.
      Why?
      They can't tell True from False.

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    2. A good coder needs to be able to extract the specific actions needed to accomplish a task. But first they need to know exactly what that task is. This takes some time to parse a particular requirement and talking to the customer as to what they actually want to be the result. Preferably someone who's actually had to accomplish that action in real life.

      It takes logic, reason, some math and a good understanding of what the particular language they're working in can accomplish. Some languages are better than others for particular tasks.

      Then comes the typing. A good coder has to be a touch typist. Sure some people can finger peck with lightning speed but still not as fast as you have look at the board.

      You're thoughts need to flow off your fingers straight from your mind and when mistakes are made or you have to rephrase touch typing is critical for speed.

      I doubt most journos could supply the necessary skills frankly. There's a reason they were attracted to journalism unless they just fell into it.

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    3. I'd agree about fluency with language. Preferably English as most computer languages were first laid down using English key words and grammar. (of sorts)

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    4. " linguistics of some sort is probably the best background for writing code"

      When I joined the AF to be a programmer, they had me take an LAT (Language Aptitude Test). During the LAT you developed a "new" language and usage rules. A score of 9 was needed to be a computer operator, 13 to be a programmer and 15 to be a translator. (I scored a 22, btw, but already had a degree in programming.) This was back in 1974 so the AF already had thought linguistics was the key and not math.

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  5. Ok, maybe I should be a journalist, because I don't understand this: "The days of pick axe and shovel are long gone --m almost by a venture."

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  6. Thanks for your interesting response, Jake. Some impressions here...

    "This takes some time to parse a particular requirement and talking to the customer as to what they actually want to be the result."

    As they say, most software projects fail in the requirements phase. It helps if you have someone who understands the users' business rules and also has some level of software comprehension. These guys are your translators.

    Even so, you can't stop the need to go back to the well of user knowledge on a continuing basis. It's like designing a house. A husband and wife can work with an architect for two years on their dream home, and still not make the house perfect for them. Software is the same way. Things that are important get overlooked, and things that were considered important no longer are.

    "It takes logic, reason, some math and a good understanding of what the particular language they're working in can accomplish."

    I earned a degree in math about fifteen years after my first degree in music, and all I can say is the only math I ever use is arithmetic, some minor algebra on rare occasion, and (as a database guy) set theory (upon which SQL is loosely based). I have had to write some interesting functions -- i.e., how to convert an integer value from Sybase into the same value recognizable by an IBM mainframe.

    The only thing from music that helps is persistence.

    A former boss used to tell me, "Programming is the iterative removal of stupidity." I would add patience to your list -- above all, patience for yourself and the limits of your own intellect.

    "Then comes the typing."

    I'm not much of a typist, but I'm fast. I can type 120 words a minute. Only problem is, 110 of them are backspace.

    "You're thoughts need to flow off your fingers straight from your mind and when mistakes are made or you have to rephrase touch typing is critical for speed."

    That's not how I operate. I spend a fair amount of time staring at the screen, trying to imagine the pieces I need for a particular job. Speed-typing is for when I know exactly what I want to do.

    If computer programs were novels, they'd all have the same plot: 1) Understand the output requirements; 2) Identify your necessary inputs; and 3) write a process that turns your inputs into your outputs. That's true for ancient bank payrolls in COBOL, for database queries, and for computer games.

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  7. Twitter is now treating #learntocode as targeted harrassment towards the laid off journos. They can't take a joke. :)

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    1. As Harry Truman said "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

      Poor baby "journalists". They're finding out the hard way that reality is a very harsh mistress indeed and there is no such thing as a "safe space". Something many of us learned a very long time ago.

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  8. Of course not because their collective egos won't allow them to die on top of the hill, but to shit on it instead.

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  9. Dad, you shoulda tried C. Or C++. Or SQL.

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  10. apparently "learn to code" is actually WORSE than "let's put teen boys through a wood chipper."

    who knew?

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  11. xxoooxxxooxoxoxoxxxxoooxxxxoooxxxxooxoxox. Too me, that all translates into "They can dish it out, but they sure can't take it. ROFLMAO"

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  12. I tried my hand at FORTRAN back in the day.

    I like to tell people I know two dead languages: Latin and Fortran. And, come to think of it, I learned both at Jesuit institutions...when they were still Catholic.

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