That's Debatable Archive

The posts below were originally published on the blog portion of the now-defunct site Greaterdebater.

You're right Mr. Cruz. Net Neutrality is like Obamacare for the Internet.

US Senator Ted Cruz recently issued an apparent non-sequitur comparing Net Neutrality to Obamacare. However, on further reflection, I am surprised to find he may have a point. In fact when you think about, the similarities are quite shocking: The US…

A Guide to Living in a Post-Privacy World

It seems apparent that privacy is soon going to go the way of the record store, and for much the same reason. Once information becomes digital, it becomes harder to prevent people from copying it than it is to copy it in the first place. Instead of…

Why do we accept car control, but not gun control?

Today I want to talk about two pillars of the American cultural experience, cars and guns. If you think about it, they're really quite similar. Both can be very useful and fun if used properly. Both are very dangerous when used by people who are…

Installing matplotlib in a virtrualenv on Ubuntu

Just a short note to document some missing dependencies for anyone else trying to google the same problem I just had. This first time it failed it couldn't find a file called ft2build.h. This was fixed by installing libfreetype6 and libfreetype6-dev…

Please Help: Join The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Statistics

Every day, on Twitter and Facebook and comment threads all across the Internet, thousands, if not millions of statistics are being cruelly mistreated. These helpless statistics are ripped away from their proper context and used to support or attack…

How to stop SOPA: Don't build it.

I've been following the news about SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, for the past couple of weeks. Yesterday there was an interesting development when 83 of the most prominent engineers responsible for creating the Internet signed an open letter…

Google+ First Impressions

By hook and/or crook I managed to wangle an invitation to Google+ yesterday. After messing around with it a little, I really like what they've done and I think it has great potential. The circles are clearly the defining feature. The ability to…

Is Music Getting More Self-Centered?

I heard on the radio the other day that Top 40 songs have gotten more self-centered recently. Supposedly, songs in the past used to be about ideas and now they're just all about the person singing the song. The DJ picked a few examples, found that it…

The 5 Kinds of Questions You Answer on AskReddit.

I never thought this day would come. For years now, I've chuckled at the naysayers who lamented that "Reddit has gone downhill". People have been saying that for about as long as I can remember, and I've been there for over four years. Sooner or…

Donald Trump's grand plan to pay off the national debt

Crooks and Liars is parading around a twelve year old article wherein Trump proposed a one time 14.25% tax on the top 1% of Americans (then defined as households with a net worth of greater than $10 million) to pay off the national debt then $5.…

The UFO Sightings US Heat Map

For a while now I've been interested in data mining and visualization. When someone posted a link to a dataset of UFO sighting information on Reddit, it seemed as good an opportunity as any to jump in and get my feet wet. There's a lot that could be…

Facebook is the new Microsoft

Is it me, or are the similarities between Facebook and Microsoft becoming downright eerie? I know Microsoft is a major investor in Facebook, so it's probably not all coincidental. But sometimes it seems like Facebook is running the MS playbook step…

A Django Unit Testing Primer

One thing I really slacked on while developing GreaterDebater was testing. Maybe that's not the right way to put it. It's not like I didn't test. In fact, I did a lot of testing. A lot of painstaking manual testing. For every change. So, in a way it…

How do I like these apples?

I like them quite a lot, thank you. In fact, they're pretty great! Ever since my esteemed colleague over at Killa Blog introduced me to Jazz apples almost a year ago, I've kept a close eye on the produce section at my local grocer. This past weekend…

Spam me once, shame on you...

I knew this day would come. GreaterDebater experienced it's first wave of spam this past week. In a way, it's almost flattering that the site is considered worth spamming now. In another much more prevalent way it's incredibly annoying. I know I'm…

Your most hated code

I think every programmer must have some bit of code they wrote that they absolutely hate. Maybe it's something that's brute force where it doesn't need to be. Maybe it's a block of code that's been copied and pasted a few more times than is advisable…

Would you live in a Google house?

Google is the undisputed champ when it comes to internet advertising. There's no shortage of companies on the web pursuing the same model. Obviously, not every product can be offered for free and funded with advertising, at some point somebody has to…

The Python String Concatenation Shootout

Python is the language of one, and only one, obvious way to do things. This isn't quite the case when it comes to concatenating string though. There's three obvious choices. First, you can use the + operator. Since strings are considered a sequence…

Why there are no up or down arrows on GreaterDebater

Other social news sites(Reddit, Hacker News, Digg to name a few) use a voting mechanism to rank stories and comments. On the whole, these work pretty well. The top rated stories and comments are often the most interesting, or at least the most…

When is a debate won?

For now, let's disregard the cynical response: "If you're arguing online, you've already lost". Sure, there's no shortage of unproductive flaming happening on the internet, but let's assume for the moment that it's possible for people to disagree…

So you want to autolink urls...

Finding a url inside a chunk of text is no easy task. Coding Horror and Daring Fireball have covered regular expressions for matching urls in a variety of circumstances. I went with the Coding Horror regular expression, mainly because the Daring…

Introducing That's Debatable

Welcome to the first installment of That's Debatable, the official GreaterDebater blog. I guess this is the part where I talk about the sorts of things I intend to be posting here. For the time being, I'm planning on using this as a catchall blog for…

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