October 2016 in the Life of Ben (Blog)

  1. January
  2. February
  3. March
  4. April
  5. May
  6. June
  7. July
  8. August
  9. September
  10. October
  11. November
  12. December

Save Southwark Woods (31st October 2016)

We visited the SW corner of the cemetery where expansion has been planned into a wooded area. Trees and green space are under threat across London. Our city desperately needs these areas to be protected and more to be created.

Planned exhumation highlights how frivolous the practice of burial is. Each is a temporary marker visited rarely by a few individuals. This is an inconsiderate use of space compared to what the wider community could benefit from.

Our city needs all its space to be of maximum use for all its residents.

Green space provides relaxation even when viewed from afar. A skyline of trees. Woodland provides exercise for families and their pets, helping to turn the tide of obesity throughout Britain’s population. It provides a traditional ecosystem, reduces flooding and cleans our air.

There are fields nearby which provide areas to play. The woodland feels small by comparison. Expanding the woodland should be the direction we take. That will benefit of the community, the environment and the character of our local area.

Step free access in the new location could be achieved by including it from the start – a feature which is lacking in the current woods, making it inaccessible to individuals and families how may find it therapeutic.

To echo the sentiments of Save Southwark Woods:

“It is utterly irresponsible and wrong for Southwark to make any decision about the Old Nursery site as they are in the middle of a 'review' of this out-of-date, environmentally and socially destructive, financially wasteful and hugely unpopular Cemetery Strategy. Southwark should carry out a full Statutory Consultation on all burial policy and cemetery plans, not just a ‘review’.

“We are for 'Option 5': No burial, make it a 3-acre Nature Reserve without burial.”

Black Mirror Series 3 (No Spoilers) (29th October 2016)

Just saw the first episode on Netflix and it was outstanding. To avoid spoiling it, all I’ll say about the premise is that it’s a plausible short story based in the not-too-distant future. Slow to start but I was utterly absorbed for most of the duration. 5 stars!

Episode 4: San Junipero

One of the best things I have ever watched.

Etsy on Privilege & Allies (22nd October 2016)

In their blog article Being an Effective Ally to Women and Non-Binary People, Etsy make perfectly clear this subject. It’s a more tangible way (to a developer) than I have seen before, too.

In the opening example, everyone else ships more than you—not because they’re better than you, but because they don’t have to deal with the additional nonsense that you do.

Understanding privilege—and understanding and accepting your own privilege—is a vital part of becoming an effective ally. You’re not being asked to beat yourself up about it, you’re being asked to empathize with others who are less privileged so that you can do something about it.


And that brings us to ally: the key part of this post. An ally is a member of a privileged group (in this case, men) who works to enable opportunity, access, and equality for members of a non-privileged group (in this case, women and non-binary people). They are using their privilege, their advantages, to bring about change.

It goes on (and on and on) to define the dynamic and then offers (very lengthy) practical steps to re-balance the dynamic.

It finishes with even more things to read but the list by itself reinforces the article’s quality.

This post references a number of external studies and articles on the research behind issues of diversity in tech and society in general, which are listed below. For more information on the business of allyship, check out our list of recommended reading for allies.

2nd USA Presidential Debate (22nd October 2016)

The highlights for this on BBC were just about watchable. Kept the TV volume low and I expect the edit cut out much of the bickering.

Hillary Clinton is the obvious choice when compared to Donald Trump. Her very prepared segments were delivered excellently; reminded me of old footage with JFK at times. Seemed to use long words intuitively simply because they were the best fit, then caught herself and recalled the simpler words and soundbites which have no doubt been extensively researched and briefed.

The show of a president is an important part of the role. They address the whole nation every week, quite unlike things here in the UK. The effect of that on national morale, national attitude and therefore the character of the nation is not comparable to Prime Minister’s Questions.

As for the actual decision making and operating of the presidency, nominations for the Supreme Court is another role we don’t have here.

As they pointed out, there are key responsibilities of a president which will affect the nation for perhaps quarter of a century. As the Democrat candidate and throughout her responses, hers would be an inclusive and uniting leadership to oversee a time of calm.

When translated into the daily operations of a real-life White House, the alternative personality of her opponent does not bear thinking about.

Let Your Developers Concentrate (21st October 2016)

From the GeekWire interview with Joel Spolsky of StackOverflew:

Spolsky played down those surveys, saying programmers have “a desire to use the latest, cool new thing” and tend to move on from programming quickly, so that their ranks are filled by “new kids showing up with newfangled things they just invented, usually reinventing the wheel.”